US Superstorm Sandy survivors: We need faster money, less red tape

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. (AP) — Survivors of storms that pounded several U.S. states say the nation’s disaster aid system is broken and want reforms to get money into victims’ hands faster, wit…

Oct 30, 2022 - 13:22
May 17, 2024 - 13:19
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US Superstorm Sandy survivors: We need faster money, less
red tape

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. (AP) — Survivors of storms that pounded several U.S. states say the nation's disaster aid system is broken and want reforms to get money into victims' hands faster, with less red tape.

On the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy's landfall at the Jersey Shore, devastating communities throughout the northeast, survivors will gather Saturday with others who went through hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Ida along with victim advocacy groups from New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Puerto Rico.

Specific recommendations call for a single point of application for the numerous local, state and federal assistance programs; imposing a smaller cap on annual flood insurance premium rate increases; giving storm victims direct payments and health insurance for a period after the storm; restructuring loan repayment or aid overpayment “clawbacks” to take into account a storm survivor's ability to pay; paying 100% of mitigation costs upfront for low-income storm victims instead of reimbursing them after they pay for the work.

Michael Moriarty, director of the mitigation division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency region that includes New Jersey, said the agency is constantly trying to become more responsive to storm victims.

“That's been the Holy Grail, to get aid to people while their house was flooded,” he said. “That's taxpayer money, so we have to be cautious, not just throwing it away, making sure it gets to the right place and is properly used. We're trying to get to a mechanism that allows for quicker relief.”

He said the idea for a single application point for storm aid is good, but cautioned that federal privacy laws restrict information sharing with state and local governments without first getting signed releases, which can take weeks.

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