WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced Senate passage of the Super-Storm Sandy Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which includes provisions that would provide additional support to states like Maryland that continue struggle in recovering from the devastating storm. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 61 to 33.
“Marylanders who have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy need more help. After a natural disaster, the federal government has an obligation to step in and help local governments where they feel the damage is just too great to handle alone. Now is the time for the Federal Government to act as a true partner. We are all in this together,” said Senator Cardin. “With greater flexibility for FEMA and HUD, and providing resources where they are needed most, this bill will provide Maryland and other affected states the tools our communities need to rebuild and get back to a state of normalcy. It also looks ahead to the next storm, helping to mitigate future damage with proven initiatives that will save lives and property.”
“It’s is long past time that communities in Maryland and across the nation get the resources and support from their government they need to get back on track,” said Senator Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee. “The clock is ticking. We’ve got businesses that need to restart. We have homes that need to be rebuilt. The TV cameras have left, but the compelling human need has not.
“This critical legislation provides resources to those who need it most. I fought hard to ensure this bill gives our federal agencies greater flexibility in providing aid to those hardest hit. It also ensures Maryland will be eligible to receive Community Development Block Grants to help restore infrastructure and house and help restore lives. During this Season of Light, I will continue to fight to restore the light in some of our hardest hit communities,” Senator Mikulski said.
The Super-Storm Sandy Supplemental Appropriations bill provides well-tailored resources to communities in Maryland and states across the nation in need. It provides immediate resources for FEMA Disaster Relief to support response and recovery; Community Disaster Loans to help local municipalities with operating expenses; support for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair and rebuild coastal communities; and an expansion of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to help restore infrastructure and housing.
Senators Cardin and Mikulski fought to ensure Maryland is eligible to receive CDBG grants for storm-related recovery activities. The legislation provides HUD greater flexibility in determining what CDBG grants can pay for so families can get the help they need most.
The Supplemental bill also provides FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate with greater flexibility to weigh economic factors when determining eligibility for Individual Disaster Assistance. Somerset County, Maryland, for example, has an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent. While residents suffered severe damage, 68 percent lack adequate insurance. This flexibility would allow FEMA to take into account the economic ability of communities to recover and provide those who need it most with individual assistance to rebuild their homes and their lives.
Team Maryland has been vigilant in seeking disaster assistance since Sandy hit the Atlantic coast in 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. Team Maryland also urged the President to approve Governor O’Malley’s updated request for Individual Disaster Assistance.