The Obameter

Help victims of superstorm Sandy 'rebuild their lives'

For victims of Superstorm Sandy: "We are going to be with them every step of the way in helping them to rebuild their lives."


Updates

Obama (and Congress) make good on help for Sandy victims

Just days before Election Day 2012, Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast. More than 100 people died in New York and New Jersey and property damage was in the billions of dollars.

On a campaign stop, President Barack Obama promised that Washington had the victims' backs.

"We are going to be with them every step of the way in helping them to rebuild their lives," he said at a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Nov. 4, 2012.

Washington delivered.

On Jan. 28, 2013, Congress passed a $50 billion aid package and Obama signed it the same night.

According to the latest numbers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, nearly 275,000 households collectively received over $1.4 billion in grants to rebuild homes and businesses and cover their living expenses during a time of chaos.

There has been some controversy over glitches that led the federal government to demand some of the money back from several thousand people. FEMA sent letters to 3,644 recipients. The average repayment demand was about $6,500. In many cases, the original paperwork was flawed. In some, the FEMA aid overlapped with financial assistance from the Small Business Administration. The repayment problem affected about 2 percent of all households FEMA helped.

In addition, state, local and tribal governments received $14.2 billion to rebuild critical infrastructure.

We rate this Promise Kept.

 

Sources:

New Jersey Spotlight, Explainer: why some Sandy survivors have been asked to pay back aid they've received, March 10, 2015

Federal Emergency Management Agency, Sandy Recovery Office, Feb. 29, 2016

 

Federal money on the way to storm-hit areas

After Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast on Oct. 29, 2012, killing more than 100 people and causing billions of dollars in property destruction, President Barack Obama promised quick and lasting help for victims.

"We are going to be with them every step of the way in helping them to rebuild their lives,” he said at a campaign stop days after the storm.

It took three months, but on Jan. 28, 2013, Congress passed a $50 billion aid package, which Obama signed into law that same night. Earlier in January, Congress approved and Obama signed a $9.7 billion bill to replenish the National Flood Insurance Program.

A previous version of the larger spending bill got tied up in the fight over the "fiscal cliff,” and some Republicans voted against the one that eventually passed because it was not offset by spending cuts.

The first $5.4 billion in aid has already been dispatched, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The money went to "areas of greatest need in the region impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” including $1.77 billion for New York City, $1.71 billion for New York state and $1.83 billion for New Jersey.

In addition to funding, the Obama administration oversaw the movement of supplies and gasoline to storm-stricken areas. The Department of Defense flew 17 aircraft to bring power generation equipment and crews to restore electricity. Barges brought gasoline to areas with shortages.

It will be months or years before the full response to Sandy can be assessed. But with money flowing to affected areas, we move this promise from Not Yet Rated to In the Works.

Sources:

THOMAS, H.R. 152, Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, signed Jan. 29, 2013

Associated Press, "Congress passes $50.5B Superstorm Sandy aid bill,” Jan. 28, 2013

New York Times, "U.S. to Release First Installment of $51 Billion in Hurricane Sandy Aid,” Feb. 5, 2013

Interview with Clark Stevens, White House spokesman, Feb. 11, 2013

HUD Public Affairs, "HUD announces first round of allocation of Hurricane Sandy recovery funds, " Feb. 6, 2013

Associated Press, "US military flying power equipment to storm area,” Nov. 1, 2012