At the direction of President Barack Obama, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to lead the federal government’s effort to provide assistance and support to states affected by Hurricane Sandy that hit the East Coast on Oct. 29, 2012.
As FEMA and its partners continue an aggressive power restoration effort in New York and New Jersey, the President has approved extension of the 100 percent cost share for emergency work performed by state, tribal and local governments through Nov. 14, 2012.
The 100 percent funding was set originally for 10 days, beginning Oct. 31.
It specifically applies to the costs of restoring power and public transportation, including direct federal assistance for New Jersey, New York and Connecticut in counties designated for FEMA Public Assistance.
Other forms of Category B (emergency work) public assistance remain at a 75 percent cost share.
“More than $455 million has already been approved for individuals to assist with housing and other disaster-related needs,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “Impacted residents and business owners in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York should apply for assistance today.”
To apply for this assistance, the first step (for individuals and businesses) is to register online at www.disasterassistance.gov, by web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).
Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362.
The toll-free telephone numbers are operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice.
FEMA is one part of a large team working together to support the states in meeting the housing needs of disaster survivors.
This joint effort includes housing and technical experts from the states, FEMA, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Army Corps of Engineers, Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and volunteer agencies.
The affected states are taking the lead to identify their local needs and resources by convening State-led Disaster Housing Task Forces.
Working together, housing priorities are being established and the team is working to ensure they are making the greatest use of existing housing resources (such as apartments and rental units), enlisting voluntary agencies to make minor repairs so survivors can remain in their homes, and investigating other temporary housing options suitable for the area.
As of 3 p.m. today (Nov. 11), more than 369,000 individuals in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut have registered for assistance, and more than $455 million has been approved in FEMA housing and other needs assistance.
Currently, a total of 55 Disaster Recovery Centers are open in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut (26 in New York, 22 in New Jersey and 7 in Connecticut) and more will continue to open.
To find a disaster recovery center location online, use the disaster recovery center locator at FEMA.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or by mobile phone at m.fema.gov. You may also text DRC and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA).
FEMA has also established a Housing Portal to assist individuals and families, displaced by a disaster. By moving individuals and families into local rental units quickly, it allows them to move forward with their personal recovery with the least amount of disruption. The portal consolidates rental resources identified and provided by federal agencies and is available at www.fema.gov/housingportal.
More than 7,200 FEMA personnel have been deployed to support response operations, including search and rescue, situational awareness, communications and logistical support in states affected by the storm.
Community relations teams are on the ground in the hardest hit areas going door-to-door to inform disaster survivors about available services and resources and to gather situational awareness.
More than 2,000 housing inspectors are on the ground, meeting with disaster survivors to identify damages to homes, to further expedite assistance to individuals; and more than 80,000 damage inspections have already been completed in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
To date, the President has declared that major disasters exist in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island and emergency declarations have been made in Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.
FEMA continues to deliver commodities including food, water, blankets, fuel, generators and others resources to distribution points across the region impacted by Sandy.
Other response activities
- Small Business
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), as of Nov. 10, has issued 248,094 disaster loan applications to residents and businesses in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
That includes 196,822 home disaster loan applications, and 51,272 business disaster loan applications.
For more information, call the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or go to www.sba.gov
The SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private non-profit organizations, to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.
- Public Health
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has more than 1,100 HHS personnel deployed to provide public health and medical assistance to New York and New Jersey.
These personnel include disaster medical assistance teams (DMATs), a group of professional medical personnel organized to provide rapid-response medical care.
To read more about DMAT teams active in the Hurricane Sandy response visit: www.phe.gov/asprblog
The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps also continues to support shelter operations.
Nearly 60 officers from three Mental Health Teams have assisted approximately 700 residents and first responders a day, helping address basic mental health issues and facilitate in shelters.
In addition, residents can connect with local crisis counselors through the National Disaster Distress Helpline. This toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 via telephone (1-800-985-5990) and SMS (text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746).
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced special relief intended to support leave-based donation programs to aid survivors who have suffered from the extraordinary destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Under these programs, employees may donate their vacation, sick or personal leave in exchange for employer cash payments made to qualified tax-exempt organizations providing relief for the survivors of Hurricane Sandy.
Also, the Treasury Department and the IRS announced an expedited review and approval process will be offered for organizations seeking tax-exempt status in order to provide relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The IRS continues to encourage people to use existing organizations currently working on immediate aid efforts.
- Fuel supply
The Department of Energy (DOE) in response to a request from the State of Connecticut, will loan an additional 4.2 million gallons of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), to provide emergency loans to fuel distributors in Connecticut to address fuel shortages in the state.
This is a continuation of the agreement announced a week ago when President Obama declared that Hurricane Sandy has created a severe energy supply interruption.
The fuel will be provided to distributors in the state and to be repaid directly by the distributors in the next 30 days.
DOE and DLA stand ready to make available additional fuel as needed.
- Department of Defense
Under the Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) has nearly 4,000 personnel supporting Hurricane Sandy relief operations in the affected areas.
Air Force teams completed unwatering (removing water) operations at Rockaway Waste Water Treatment facility, and East School in Long Beach, N.Y., and provided teams to support fire departments conducting unwatering operations in Breezy Point, N.Y.
Army divers repaired the pier system at Caven Point, N.J.
Navy dive detachments continue to support the World Trade Center site and Marine pump teams are assisting pumping operations at Breezy Point.
Helicopters from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are transporting and re-locating generators in affected areas to support critical infrastructure.
Navy Seabees and Marine personnel restored the beach at Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook and continue supporting debris clearance operations at locations in Bayonne, N.J. and the Battery, N.Y.
The Defense Logistics Agency continues to supply FEMA with much needed emergency supplies, medical equipment, fuel and now cold and wet weather clothing to help those working toward recovery after Hurricane Sandy.
DLA has delivered more than 1.8 million gallons of fuel to federal government distribution points in the New York/New Jersey region.
DLA has contracts in place to support waste water clean-up, hazardous material removal, and debris removal operations. DLA has also awarded two contracts for 330 roll-off dumpsters and 34 trucks for overland trash hauling; 2.5 million pounds of debris have been removed in the last 48 hours.
- Army Corps of Engineers
The Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has more than 3,000 employees from the North Atlantic Division – with an additional 960 team members deployed from other USACE divisions across the nation – engaged in supporting the response mission.
Response teams are assisting with debris management, commodities distribution, infrastructure assessment, temporary roofing, critical public facilities, water planning, and temporary housing.
More than 5,600 Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from 11 states are conducting food, water, and fuel distribution, communications, security, sheltering, debris removal and transportation missions in support of recovery efforts.
Civil Air Patrol is launching 23 aircraft from states along the Northeast seaboard to photograph hurricane damage in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and to conduct low-level missions over waterways that would correspond to varying tidal conditions to pinpoint oil spills and navigation hazards for the U.S. Coast Guard.
These flyovers, involving aircraft from as far away as Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina, will also assist federal agencies to assess where to most-effectively deploy debris teams.
The U.S. Fleet Forces (Navy and Marine Corps) are assisting the Army Corps of Engineers in power restoration, cleaning and dewatering efforts in NY and NJ.
- U.S. Postal Service
The United State Postal Service (USPS) reminds customers who have evacuated or relocated due to hurricane Sandy to submit a change of address, place mail on hold or request that mail be temporarily forwarded to their new location. For the latest service updates regarding hurricane Sandy, call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has distributed an initial $5.3 million to 11 states affected by Hurricane Sandy. NRCS provides this funding through its Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is allowing flexibility to New York City Public School District to serve all meals free through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for the month of November.
FNS has also approved New Jersey’s request to allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP- formerly Food Stamps) recipients in affected counties to purchase hot foods with SNAP benefits through the end of November.
- AmeriCorps/Senior Corps
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has 1,008 national service members who have been deployed to seven states.
AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia are assisting with shelter operations, call centers, debris removal, and mass care.
About 435 members of FEMA Corps, an innovative partnership between FEMA and AmeriCorps, are working directly with disaster survivors in New York and New Jersey.
- Dept. of the Interior
Under the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), more than 1,200 wildland firefighters from all agencies, including about 260 wildland firefighters from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park service are responding with fellow wildland firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service and State Forestry Divisions to support FEMA staging areas, assist in emergency operations centers, and provide crews to clear trees for emergency access and power crews.
- National Park Service
The National Park Service (NPS) has deployed more than 300 incident management personnel, technical experts and work crews to assist parks and refuges throughout the region in recovery operations.
Working with interagency partners, NPS has also established a debris transfer site at Jacob Riis Park in New York to support local clean-up activities and is providing meals for emergency workers in the vicinity of its logistics base at Fort Wadsworth in the Gateway National Recreation Area.
Posted November 11, 2012 – release edited and photos added by HTNP News Editor Brenda Sullivan
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