Earlier this week, I traveled to Long Island to see the damage from Hurricane Sandy and hear directly from local officials about the need for federal support of ongoing recovery and redevelopment efforts.
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone graciously welcomed me to Long Island for the day, which started with a driving tour of several storm-ravaged communities. We then joined with dozens of local leaders where I heard firsthand about the unique recovery issues facing the area, including the relocation of senior home residents and the public health concerns that come with getting a sewer system back online.
Of all the things I’ve experienced in my job, I’ve heard nothing more poignant than the stories of families hit by this disaster. There’s nothing as powerful as seeing homes destroyed and meeting people who’ve been at hotels or shelters since early November and literally have no place to sleep at night. I’ve met first responders who, despite not having a place to stay, still got to work and responded to the needs of their neighbors. And I’ve spoken with families who in the past contributed to their local food banks, but never thought that they’d be the ones needing food.
These moving stories are a testament to the scale of the damage and the resilience of those affected. But they drive home just how critical it is that Congress act immediately to approve President Obama’s $60 billion supplemental request for assistance to aid in storm recovery. Indeed, every day that goes by without action by Congress is another day that Long Island families and others across the region are stuck, unable to get past the grief and devastation. It’s another day that small businesses can’t make decisions about what they can afford to rebuild on their properties. And it’s another day that temperatures continue to drop, with far too many families remaining in temporary housing.
Sandy will be one of the most costly and devastating disasters in the history of our country. We won’t rebuild in a day, or a week, or a month, but with Congress’ support of the supplemental $60 billion in assistance, we’ll be here with the support it will take to get Long Islanders back on their feet.