WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, (both D-Md.) today announced that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has approved Maryland’s recovery plan to use $8.6 million in federal funding through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to help Lower Shore communities struggling to recover from Super-Storm Sandy. These funds were included in the Super-Storm Sandy Supplemental Appropriations bill which passed the Senate in January to help restore infrastructure and housing in communities hit hardest by the storm.
“Marylanders continue to rebuild their lives, their homes and their businesses long after Hurricane Sandy. The federal government has been a partner since day one with resources and support. The Community Development Block Grants from HUD are sorely needed and will help bridge the distance to making Crisfield and the surrounding area whole again,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “I will continue to work with HUD and other agencies to ensure that funds reach the people and neighborhoods most in need.”
“Super-Storm Sandy was one of the most destructive storms to ever hit the United States and had a measurable impact on Marylanders, especially on the residents of Somerset County. These funds in the federal checkbook will help those still reeling from the devastation of Sandy to recover and rebuild their lives, their livelihoods and their communities,” said Senator Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee that puts funds in the federal checkbook for all federal housing programs. “I’ve continued to fight hard with Team Maryland so that those hit hardest by this storm know they have a federal government on their side. I’ve seen first-hand the impact Super-Storm Sandy has had on communities like Crisfield. We’ve got businesses that need to restart and homes that need to be rebuilt. This Community Development Block Grant funding is welcome relief to residents of Somerset County that will help restore infrastructure and housing and help restore lives.”
Following HUD’s announcement in February that it would award Maryland $8.6 million in CDBG funding, grantees were required to develop and submit an action plan to HUD within 90 days to detail where funds will be allocated. Maryland’s initial recovery plan calls for a $4.4 million investment in a variety of housing and infrastructure activities in Somerset County. It also includes $3 million to help owner-occupants rehabilitate or replace their homes. In addition, the state plans to invest $1 million to assist small businesses that have unmet recovery needs. Read Maryland’s disaster recovery plan here.
CDBG disaster funds are flexible aid for states and localities that can be used to address severely damaged housing, infrastructure, and assist with economic development in areas impacted by Sandy. To date, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided $33.2 million in federal individual and public assistance in Maryland.
Senators Cardin and Mikulski fought to ensure the Super-Storm Sandy Supplemental Appropriations bill included an expansion of the CDBG program as well as provided HUD with greater flexibility in determining what CDBG grants can pay for so families can get the help they need most. In December, the Senators wrote to HUD Secretary Donovan and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate urging their agencies to cut through red tape and calling on HUD to use maximum flexibility in awarding their CDBG assistance. A copy of their letter is available here.
Team Maryland has been vigilant in seeking disaster assistance since Sandy hit the Atlantic coast last October.
With the full support and backing of Team Maryland, FEMA reversed its initial denial of Individual Disaster Assistance for Somerset County, approving approved this assistance, which provides critical housing assistance and disaster-related support for families and individuals coping with the immediate aftermath of the storm.
Senators Cardin and Mikulski also led the Maryland delegation in urging President Obama to support a Pre-Disaster Declaration, Disaster Declaration and Individual Assistance for Maryland counties impacted by Super-Storm Sandy.