NEW YORK – When Hurricane Sandy made landfall a year ago on Oct. 29, the unprecedented storm surge and strong winds devastated tens of thousands of New Yorkers.
Amid widespread power outages and storm debris, New York survivors began asking where and how to begin putting their lives back together.
In anticipation of Sandy’s impact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency deployed nearly 300 people to New York in advance of the hurricane to begin coordinating assistance for survivors. Within 48 hours of Sandy’s landfall, the figure swelled to 1,200. Eventually more than 4,000 workers were part of the federal response team.
Also within 48 hours, the first FEMA grants for New York individuals and households, totaling $1.7 million, were approved to help eligible survivors with home repairs, temporary rental costs and other uninsured hurricane-related expenses.
One year later, more than $1 billion has been approved for New Yorkers through FEMA’s Individuals and Households program to help them rebuild their lives. This is part of a total of more than $8.3 billion in disaster assistance that also includes more than $1.5 billion in low-interest U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loans, more than $3.7 billion in flood insurance claim payments and more than $2.1 billion for debris removal, repair or replacement of public facilities and reimbursement for emergency expenses.
FEMA, in coordination with its local, state, federal, tribal, private sector, voluntary and faith-based partners, has been working nonstop with New York survivors to help them rebuild their lives. During the past year, more than 117,500 individuals and households in New York’s 13 designated counties were approved for assistance.
In the months after Hurricane Sandy, FEMA dispatched nearly 1,200 community relations specialists to devastated neighborhoods to determine survivors’ individual needs, and to help them navigate the FEMA application process and access other services.
More than 500 national, state and local voluntary and faith-based organizations helped people in need. They coordinated donations, volunteer management, home repair, child care, counseling services and removal of muck and mold from homes.
FEMA opened 65 disaster recovery centers, many of them located in hard-hit areas, where survivors received face-to-face help. There were more than 183,000 visits to the centers.
With thousands of New Yorkers displaced in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, FEMA worked with the state and city of New York to implement innovative programs to respond to the unique challenges posed by the shortage of rental housing in a densely populated, vertically built and linguistically diverse region.
Thanks to the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power program that was coordinated by local governments and funded by FEMA, more than 21,000 families were able to remain in their storm-damaged homes while repairs were made.
In addition, FEMA temporarily housed nearly 6,000 individuals and families in hotels and motels through its Transitional Sheltering Assistance program.
To ensure everyone received information, FEMA provided materials in 26 languages.
A year after the storm, all housing inspections – more than 185,000 – have been completed. Today more than 160 New Yorkers hired by FEMA to assist in recovery operations continue to help their communities rebuild from Sandy.