It’s been one year since deadly Superstorm Sandy made landfall in southern New Jersey, sending some 23,000 seeking emergency shelter, knocking out power to 8.5 million customers, and crippling countless communities across the Eastern seaboard.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says more than $1.4 billion in individual assistance has been provided to more than 182,000 survivors, and an additional $2.4 billion in low-interest disaster loans have been approved by the Small Business Administration. Nearly $8 billion has been paid out to policyholders through the National Flood Insurance Program and FEMA has approved more than $3.2 billion to fund emergency work, debris removal, and repair and replacement of infrastructure.
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The New York Daily News paints a far less flattering picture.
It reported on Monday that only a fraction of the $60 billion in aid approved by Congress has made it to the hands of survivors. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, meanwhile, reported in August that just $5.2 billion of the aid package had actually been spent. An additional $6 billion set aside by federal agencies also had yet to reach recipients.
Thousands of victims who lost their homes have yet to rebuild them. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told NBC News that officials have to be careful in distributing funds
so as not to waste money.
“You want to get the money out as quickly as possible, and the first year has been too slow for anybody’s tastes, but you also want to make sure it goes to where it belongs,” Schumer said at a news conference in New York. “We tried to be as speedy as possible, and it’ll be much speedier the second year because this is all set up.”
Sandy left in its wake an estimated $65 billion in damage, including more than $8.3 billion in New Jersey, where 19,000 small businesses sustained damage of $250,000 or more, according to BuzzFeed
. The hurricane damaged or destroyed 305,000 housing units in New York and 346,000 housing units in New Jersey. It was the second costliest hurricane to hit the United States since 1900.
When Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, it was no longer considered a hurricane. Winds had fallen below a sustained velocity of 74 mph.
“What made Sandy devastating was its size, covering more than 1,000 miles, the coastal storm surges it caused, and the way the force of the cyclone — which took an unusual path almost directly at the East Coast – pushed the sea and rivers up and over onto land, spilling out into streets and inundating nearby infrastructure,” Time magazine said
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