Federal Family and Partners Continue to Support States Impacted by Sandy; More than $293 million in Individual Assistance Approved for Disaster Survivors

Federal Family and Partners Continue to Support States Impacted by Sandy

More than $293 million in Individual Assistance Approved for Disaster Survivors

WASHINGTON – 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, ensuring the federal family and its public and private partners continue to provide all available resources to support state, local, and tribal communities in affected areas.

Today, the President received an update from the National Weather Service on the high winds, rain, snow and cold temperatures associated with the nor’easter that’s bearing down on the Northeast.  The President also convened a conference call with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security John Brennan and Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco.  The President heard from his team about the federal resources, personnel and expertise being used to support state and local recovery efforts in the wake of Sandy, including efforts to take additional steps to support preparedness efforts ahead of the coastal low pressure system moving into the region.  

As FEMA and its federal partners continue to work with the states in support of their recovery efforts, the top priority is providing access to shelter for residents whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed by the storm. At the requests of New York and New Jersey, FEMA continues to deliver commodities including food, water, blankets, generators and others resources to distribution points across the region impacted by Sandy, and FEMA continues to pre-position additional resources and supplies to ensure they are in place if needed by our state and local partners to respond to the coastal low.”Many survivors of Hurricane Sandy are already getting assistance from FEMA,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “Impacted residents and business owners in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey can apply for federal assistance by phone at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), via mobile devices at m.fema.gov or online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.”Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. 

FEMA is one part of a large team that is working together to support the states of New York and New Jersey in meeting the housing needs of disaster survivors. This joint effort is comprised of housing and technical experts from the states, FEMA, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Army Corps of Engineers, Small Business Administration (SBA) and voluntary agencies. Working together, the team will partner with the state as they establish housing priorities; seek ways to make the greatest use of existing housing resources, such as apartments and rental units; enlist voluntary agencies to make minor repairs so survivors can remain in their homes and investigate other temporary housing options suitable for the area. FEMA continues to encourage the affected states to take the lead in identifying their local needs and resources by convening state-led Housing Task Forces. 

The state Housing Task Forces in New York and New Jersey have already begun meeting with FEMA representatives and recovery housing plans are underway. These individualized task forces help ensure the states continue to have the authority to select from available temporary housing solutions they deem sufficient to meet the needs of their residents following a disaster.   In support of these state-led efforts, FEMA authorized funds to increase the existing rental assistance in New York and New Jersey to exceed current FY2013 Fair Market Rent (FMR) levels to 125 percent. Immediately after the recent disasters, FEMA evaluated the number of available rental resources within Metropolitan New York and Northern New Jersey that might be available to house disaster survivors. After a disaster the sudden reduction of available housing supply can cause the cost of remaining housing units in the area to rise above the pre-existing FMR.

It was quickly apparent that the cost of available rental units could become a limiting factor and the additional 25 percent increase is expected to make more than 1,800 rental resources available for temporary housing of disaster-impacted families in New York, and an additional 1,200 rental resources available for similar families in New Jersey.  The Increase to rental assistance will be implemented during recertification for a continued need for temporary housing assistance .   If a home cannot be repaired easily to safe and sanitary conditions, then local rental resources are the preferred first choice for housing disaster survivors as they recover. As a resource, FEMA has established a Housing Portal to assist individuals and families, who have been displaced by a disaster, find a place to live.

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. However, when rental resources are insufficient to meet the housing need, individual states may select among several housing options including the provision of housing units.  The portal consolidates rental resources identified and provided by federal agencies, such as the HUD, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Veterans Administration (VA), private organizations, and the public, to help individuals and families find available rental units in their area. The housing portal is available at www.fema.gov/housingportal. FEMA has also activated, at the request of the states, its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for New Jersey and New York. This program allows eligible survivors who cannot return to their homes due to damages caused by Hurricane Sandy to stay in participating hotels or motels until more suitable housing accommodations are available.  

This initiative is intended to provide short-term lodging for eligible disaster survivors whose communities are either uninhabitable or inaccessible due to disaster-related damages. For more information, disaster survivors should call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those 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. Manufactured housing is provided, in coordination with the state, as the option of last resort in areas with limited available rental resources. In preparation for any potential request for temporary housing units, FEMA is working in close coordination with state-led housing task forces and has begun to pre-position these resources in staging areas closer to impacted areas so that as plans are further discussed, units can be made available to support states, if needed and requested.  As cold weather temperatures threaten areas impacted by the Hurricane Sandy, the risk of fires increases with the use of supplemental heating, such as space heaters and any fuel-burning appliances in the home, including furnaces and fireplaces and are a potential carbon monoxide source. Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage even if doors and windows are open. Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors and vents. Read both the label on your generator and the owner’s manual and follow the instructions.  If possible, avoid using candles and don’t use your stove for heating. 

For other heating sources like a wood burning stove, space heater or fire place, establish a 3 foot safety zone around all heat sources. For further information regarding these safety tips or other post hurricane and winter safety recommendations, visit www.fema.gov or www.ready.gov.    FEMA and its federal partners, through our National Response Coordination Center in Washington, continue to closely monitor the developing weather conditions and remain in close contact with state emergency management partners in potentially affected states along the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast to ensure coordination for any emergency response.

FEMA is urging residents in potentially-affected areas to monitor local radio and television news outlets or listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest developments. Information about local forecasts is available from the National Weather Service at www.weather.gov or by phone at mobile.weather.gov.  In response to Hurricane Sandy, as of 3 p.m., more than 303,900 individuals in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have registered for assistance, and more than $293 million has been approved in FEMA Assistance. Fifteen Disaster Recovery Centers are open in New York, seven in New Jersey and seven in Connecticut and more continue to open. Additional disaster recovery centers are being planned. Specialists from the state, FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are on hand to answer questions and provide information on the types of assistance available to survivors.

To find a disaster recovery center location, check out the disaster recovery center locator at FEMA.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or by mobile phone at m.fema.gov.    More than 5,300 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. 

FEMA continues to coordinate with the federal family to deploy and mobilize hundreds of staff from various federal agencies to support community relations and operational activities. More than 1,800 housing inspectors are on the ground, meeting with disaster survivors to identify damages to homes, to further expedite assistance to individuals. 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.  Federal and state personnel are on the ground to conduct joint preliminary damage assessments in several states.  These assessments are designed to give the governor of each state a better picture of damages, and to determine if a request for further federal support is needed. Other assessments may be scheduled as needed and requested. In addition, the following federal activities are also being coordinated: The United State Postal Service (USPS) wants to remind 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. 

There are three services that will help customers maintain a continuous flow of mail: A Change of Address, General Delivery or Premium Forwarding Service (PFS).  To sign up for all of the available forwarding and Change of Address services, please visit your nearest Post Office or go to www.usps.com and click on the “Manage Your Mail” tab.  For the latest service updates regarding hurricane Sandy, call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777). The Department of Energy (DOE) is working closely with other federal partners, state and local authorities, and private industry partners to get generators and fuel to gas stations that need it as part of its restoration efforts in helping with Hurricane Sandy.  Among these partners is a group of high school students in New Jersey. Dozens of students gathered at Franklin High School in New Brunswick to use the online mapping service Mappler to publish information on open gas stations with available fuel. The students helped connect the Mappler data with other Energy Department resources such as the creation of a gas station call center. 

Other technology-minded organizations working behind-the-scenes to help in recovery and response efforts following Hurricane Sandy include mobile apps like Waze and GasBuddy, other educational institutions like University of Washington, and technical communities like Hurricane Hackers and Crisis Commons.    U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service emergency support coordinators continue to assist FEMA and states in addressing agricultural and natural resources needs associated with Hurricane Sandy.  Coordinators are deployed to FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) in Washington, DC and Regional Response Coordinator Center in Colts Neck, New Jersey.   USDA’s Rural Development continues to coordinate with FEMA to provide shelter to those left homeless by Hurricane Sandy.

State Directors in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware are coordinating with the owners and management of USDA-funded multi-family housing developments.  They are providing disaster guidance and waivers intended to expedite placement of hurricane victims in USDA-financed housing units.   USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has agreed to allow 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 that reside in Atlantic County, Bergen County, Cape May County, Essex County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Ocean County, Somerset County and Union County,( all of which have received individual assistance declarations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)), to be allowed to purchase hot foods and hot food products with SNAP benefits through the end of the month.  The Department of Defense (DoD) remains fully engaged in the ongoing federal disaster response efforts underway in eastern and northeastern United States as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  The department is focusing on providing unique capabilities to support civilian efforts to restore power to vital facilities and to assist with the resumption of mass transit services in the New York and New Jersey area.  Marine Corps pump teams assigned to the 19th Engineering Battalion (Fort Knox, Ky.), pumped 256,000 gallons from basement areas at three apartment complexes in Queens, N.Y. and are continuing operations in the same neighborhoods.  Air Force teams provided pump support to the New York City Fire Department in Brooklyn and at the Rockaway Waste Water Treatment Plant.  A Navy dive detachment is providing pump support at the World Trade Center.  Army Divers are assisting with assessments at Craven Point, and Amtrak Substation in Kearney, N.J.   Navy and Marine Corps teams have begun pumping operations in Breezy Point, N.Y. Navy divers assisted with surface and underwater infrastructure assessments, evaluating storm damage to Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook.  Navy personnel also assisted with debris cleanup operations at the station. Marine teams are removing debris from locations and routes in Staten Island and at the Hoboken Ferry Terminal. 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.  Some 500 sets of cold weather clothing and 200 hypothermia kits have been staged at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.   Representatives from DLA Troop Support’s subsistence, medical, clothing and textiles, and construction and equipment supply chains have been working in the command and control center 24/7 to fulfill FEMA and U.S. Northern Command requests. More than 3 million meals have been delivered and five million more are scheduled for delivery to several FEMA sites by Nov. 7.  Fifty-one power generators and 150,000 blankets have arrived at or on their way to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, a FEMA staging area in central New Jersey. Additionally, DLA has taken on a new mission of powering up gas stations that have no power. Currently, there have been 81 stations identified and they are expected to have several up and running within the next 24 hours. This mission has been contracted to provide a solution to those stations that have gas but no power. To aid those already struggling with little to no power for heat and basic essentials during the recovery, DLA received another new mission to have a contracted company supply power to 41 apartment buildings in New York City, with the first location in Queens. First responder fuel support continues to be a priority with more than 850,000 gallons of fuel delivered to 26 locations in New York and New Jersey.   The Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has more than 600 personnel supporting Hurricane Sandy response operations.  Priority missions include:  unwatering, temporary emergency power, restoration of ports, and debris cleanup. The USACE is responsible for unwatering operations at 14 sites.  To date, seven sites have been completed, seven sites are being pumped and two sites are anticipating completion in the next 24 hours.  USACE has process more than 470 requests for power restoration services to date.  USACE has installed 67 generators and has completed 243 assessments. The 249th Prime Power Engineer Battalion is moving all available personnel to support power mission assignments. USACE is currently pumping in 5 locations in and around New York City and have completed pumping operations at 4 locations.  To date, USACE has delivered a total 175 truckloads (3.1 million liters) of bottled water in four states in response to Hurricane Sandy in support of FEMA.  In addition, USACE is assisting with debris removal in New York and New Jersey in response to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. The first two assignments for direct federal assistance came Monday requesting USACE debris experts to work with commercial contractors and local officials to clear debris in support of New York and New Jersey power companies. USACE experts are in New York City assisting with the removal, reduction and disposal of household and other urban debris. This includes items like white goods such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, electronics, household hazardous waste chemicals and vehicles.  USACE has integrated with state and local governments to provide technical assistance, quality assurance inspectors and contract management expertise.  The National Guard continues to work around-the-clock to expedite recovery efforts and are tracking the anticipated winter storm and preparing forces for possible rescue, evacuation and sheltering operations.  More than 6,200 Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from 15 states are conducting fuel distribution, communications, security, sheltering, debris removal and transportation missions in support of recovery efforts. There are 45 National Guard chaplains providing comfort and support to military personnel, residents, and first responders. The Guard has distributed 3,100 blankets, 4,698 tarps, 21,450 cases of water and 17,040 cases of Meals-Ready-to-Eat.             The U.S. Coast Guard’s Pollution Response Unified Command is responding to numerous areas throughout New York and New Jersey with environmental threats caused by Hurricane Sandy. Responders with the unified command are assessing affected areas and environmentally sensitive areas for pollution and hazardous materials. The assessments will be used to appropriately respond to the identified areas of pollution. The unified command has created branches, divisions and task forces to safely and efficiently respond to these impacted areas. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has 960 national service members that have been deployed to seven states, with more than 850 more on standby for assignments.  Members include AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and 445 members of FEMA Corps, an innovative partnership between FEMA and AmeriCorps. In Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia traditional AmeriCorps members are assisting with shelter operations, call centers, debris removal, and mass care while FEMA Corps members are working directly with disaster survivors in New York and New Jersey.  The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) reports that the Holland Tunnel, which connects the island of Manhattan to Jersey City, New Jersey, opened this morning at 5 a.m., opening another access point to New York City.  DOT is making $29 million in quick-release emergency relief funds immediately available to Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island to help begin repairing the damage to roads, bridges and tunnels. Assessments continue throughout the northeast to determine the full extent of the damage.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has activated the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP) to assist people in the impacted areas without any form of health insurance coverage to replace certain prescription medications and limited durable medical equipment lost or damaged in the hurricane. More than 1,200 HHS personnel are deployed to provide public health and medical assistance to New York and New Jersey in Hurricane Sandy response and recovery efforts.  At the request of the State of New Jersey, the CDC Federal Medical Station remains in Edison, New Jersey as a medical shelter.  The Department of Energy (DOE) is working closely with other federal partners, state and local authorities, and private industry partners to get generators and fuel to gas stations that need it as part of its restoration efforts in helping with Hurricane Sandy.  Among these partners is a group of high school students in New Jersey. Dozens of students gathered at Franklin High School in New Brunswick to use the online mapping service Mappler to publish information on open gas stations with available fuel. The students helped connect the Mappler data with other Energy Department resources such as the creation of a gas station call center.  Other technology-minded organizations working behind-the-scenes to help in recovery and response efforts following Hurricane Sandy include mobile apps like Waze and GasBuddy, other educational institutions like University of Washington, and technical communities like Hurricane Hackers and Crisis Commons.    The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) mobilized resources to speed storm recovery on Federal and tribal lands in the impacted region and to support FEMA in its efforts to assist states and local governments in the disaster area, including nearly 700 DOI employees conducting response and recovery missions and at least an equal number are committed to disaster recovery work in at their home locations.  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.  The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is leading a Tribal Assistance Coordination Group, enhancing communications and coordination between Native American Tribes in the disaster area, other Federal agencies including FEMA, and non-profit relief organizations.  The National Park Service (NPS) has deployed more than 300 incident management personnel, technical experts and work crews to assist almost 650 personnel at parks 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 feeding for emergency workers in the vicinity of its logistics base at Fort Wadsworth in the Gateway National Recreation Area.  The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) electronic loan application (ELA) is the way for homeowners, renters and businesses to apply for a disaster loan for Hurricane Sandy damages in New Jersey and New York.  The ELA provides a convenient alternative to visiting a Disaster Recovery Center or mailing in a paper loan application. The online program checks for errors, prompts for more information when needed and provides a quicker decision than the hand-written applications.  Visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela to apply online. Also, SBA has two Business Recovery Centers (one in Manahawkin, NJ, and one in Brooklyn, NY) which provides one-on-one help to business owners seeking disaster assistance for losses caused by Hurricane Sandy. 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.   FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Lover, Fighter, Friend, Journalist, and Activist.

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