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 62 to 36 and comes a full month following the Senate’s passage of similar legislation on December 28, 2012 which House Republicans failed to take up prior to the adjournment of the 112th Congress.
“Marylanders who have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy still need 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 additional funding 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.”
“Hurricane Sandy was one of the most destructive storms to ever hit the United States. Hundreds of thousands of families have seen their lives turned upside-down. They’ve waited far too long for this legislation to reach the President’s desk, and I am pleased that the Senate has voted tonight to make that possible,” Chairwoman Mikulski said. “This is the bill that will pay for disaster relief to help our citizens both as individuals, business, and as communities, rebuild their lives after the devastating, horrific impact of Hurricane Sandy. They have been waiting for almost 90 days for their federal government to step up and help them rebuild their lives and rebuild their livelihoods. They have been waiting and waiting. Governor Cuomo, Governor Christie, Governor O’Malley, have all said, ‘Move it. We need help now.’ Tonight’s vote is a belated but much need response to their demands.”
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, many 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.