The state could begin taking applications for federal assistance as early as next month from homeowners and businesses still recovering from storm Sandy last year.
Officials said late last week that federal housing authorities have approved $72 million to help rebuilding in Fairfield, New London, New Haven, and Middlesex counties as well as the Mashantucket Pequot reservation. Congress has said that 80 percent of the money must be spent in Fairfield and New Haven Counties.
Democratic congressman Jim Himes, who represents southwestern Connecticut, said that requirement was necessary because the area took the brunt of last year’s devastating storm.
“The coast from Greenwich to Bridgeport got absolutely hammered,” Himes told Capitol Watch. “This aid has been long delayed. I’m glad it’s finally being addressed.”
The state’s Department of Housing will be responsible for handing out the federal dollars. That department is still in the process of getting itself set up after it became a separate department last year. But Housing Commissioner Evonne M. Klein says she isn’t worried about her agency having any problems handing out the millions of dollars in federal aid.
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A new report from Climate Central shows that Hurricane Sandy sewage overflow totaled 24.3 million gallons – enough to fill 40 Olympic-size swimming pools.
The biggest spill was at the West Side waste water treatment plant in Bridgeport, where 17 million gallons of partially treated sewage were dumped into the Long Island Sound and Bridgeport Harbor as a result of flooding on October 29th.
The report found untreated sewage spills at facilities in eight different towns across the state.
Full report here.
Today marks six months since Superstorm Sandy devastated the east coast. No sooner had the flood waters receded than members of the Connecticut, New York and New Jersey delegations were fighting in Congress to try to secure $60 billion worth of storm relief. A report out today from liberal think tank Center for American Progress shows that extreme weather events have been increasing in frequency and cost:
Full report here.
New Jersey firefighters want to build 26 playgrounds in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut to help residents recover from one tragic event and memorialize the victims of another. The Sandy Ground Project, Where Angels Play aims to “connect two tragedies that eerily share the same name in a way that people can never forget.” Commissioned by the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (NJFMBA), the project consists of 26 playgrounds, one named after each Sandy Hook victim. Each playground will be built in a town devastated by Hurricane Sandy, a natural disaster that brought leaders from the three states together as they sought relief aid.
Of the 12 playground locations announced, two are slated for the Connecticut towns of Westport and Stratford. Police estimate a cost of between $1.8 and $2 million, which the NJFMBA plans to raise through donations and fundraisers. Police, firefighters, teachers, and other volunteers will build the playgrounds.
The organization envisions each playground reflecting the personality of the slain victim to whom it’s dedicated–as long as family members support the effort.
“I can already hear the kids laughing and yelling as they run around on Catherine’s playground. I can hear the swing creaking as the kids pump their feet and touch the clouds…Kids can be kids and parents can breathe a little lighter knowing that they will all we watched over by the 26 angels,” wrote Jen Hubbard, mother of Catherine, in a testimonial printed on the website.
Connecticut’s receiving $71.8 million in Community Development Block Grant funding to rebuild infrastructure damaged during Storm Sandy. The money represents a chunk of the $16 billion from the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development that was part of the $60 billion Sandy aid package Obama signed last month. HUD allocated $5.4 billion in this first release.
“This money is critical to Connecticut’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy. From repairing and improving infrastructure to addressing coastal flood plain issues and helping homeowners and businesses rebuild, the State has a long list of targets that this funding may address. We are pleased Secretary Donovan moved so quickly after we asked him to and we will continue to fight to ensure that Connecticut residents see every last dollar to which they are entitled,” said the members of the Connecticut delegation in a joint statement. Yesterday, the CT delegation wrote to HUD secretary Shaun Donovan asking him to not leave their state out as they feel they have been overlooked in aid allocation after other storms.
In this first wave of $5.4 billion worth of aid, New York is getting $35.5 billion, New Jersey is getting $1.8 billion, and Connecticut is splitting the rest with Maryland and Rhode Island.
After a lengthy process to obtain $60 billion worth of aid for Hurricane Sandy victims, relief will officially be provided to those affected by the superstorm. On Tuesday, President Obama signed the Disaster Relief and Appropriations Act, which funds $50.4 billion in post-storm assistance.
The Senate passed the measure Monday in a 62-36 vote. The legislation, which contains $17 billion in immediate relief and $33 billion for long-term recovery, follows the $9.7 billion in National Flood Insurance funding the House passed earlier this month.
During the last Congress, the Senate passed $60 billion in Sandy aid in one package, but that bill died after Boehner refused to put it on the floor for a vote. When the new Congress was sworn in, the House voted took up the aid in two separate measures.
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes tells us it looks good for eventual passage of approximately $51 billion in additional federal aid for states hit hard by Storm Sandy. Action has been delayed since House Speaker John Boehner put off a vote, outraging Democrats and Republicans from the Northeast.
House members are now expected to vote today on $17 billion in immediate assistance with a vote on another $33 billion later this week. Earlier this month the House approved $9.7 billion in funding for federal flood insurance.
“It looks good,” Himes said. “The Republicans have divided the bill into two piece … They’ve stripped out some of the controversial stuff, like the money for fisheries. It is looking pretty good.”
The 1st District’s John Larson also released a statement praising the deal that will assure passage of the Sandy Money. In a statement e-mailed by his office, Larson said:
These reforms build on what we have learned from the widespread devastation caused by past storms, and will improve the recovery process to ensure disaster funding is provided for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in a timely and effective manner. I applaud Representatives Denham, Shuster, Holmes Norton, and Rahall for their efforts and hope that tonight’s bipartisan spirit will carry into tomorrow’s vote on much needed Hurricane Sandy Relief funding.
These are the Republican members of the House of Representatives who today voted against the first portion of federal relief for states hit by Storm Sandy. Tweeted by TPM.
Now that the U.S. Senate has passed the $60.4 billion Hurricane Sandy Emergency Assistance Supplemental bill, the governors of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey are writing all 435 members of the House of Representatives asking for their support.
See the actual letter or read below.
December 28, 2012
Dear Member of Congress:
As you come back to Washington, D.C. to act on the remaining business of 2012, we request your help in finalizing the federal aid package for the states that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. President Obama has put forward a comprehensive package that has passed the Senate and, if passed by the House, will provide the critical support hundreds of thousands of small businesses and homeowners in our regions have been waiting for since the storm hit nearly two months ago.
Whenever a crisis or natural disaster has hit any part of the nation, elected representatives from affected regions have always been the most vocal and forceful, urging their colleagues to do their duty and vote to deliver much needed federal support. The congressional delegations of our three states have always been there to provide critical votes for these aid packages, because this is what America is all about – when one of us is in need, we step up to the plate to lend a helping hand.