Post-Sandy life struggles with housing, transportation
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy needs have started to shift from the immediate access of food and shelter to long-term solutions for housing, rebuilding and getting to work.
While, as of the morning of Nov. 6, there are still 973,759 million people without power, some 6.2 million have seen service restored says (.pdf) the Energy Department.
"As power comes on, it's becoming clear that for many people the longer term issues will be rebuilding and repairing their homes," said Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate on a Nov. 5 press call.
FEMA has disbursed $199 million in individual assistance, $193 million of that in housing assistance, said Fugate. Some 217,000 people have registered with FEMA for assistance.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, on the same press call, said 34,000 people have been approved for hotel and rental assistance funds. HUD is also working with lenders to establish a 90 day moratorium on foreclosures in affected areas, and the agency is making FHA loans available for others to rebuild.
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service will waive low-income housing tax credit rules that prohibit owners of low-income housing from providing housing to survivors of Hurricane Sandy who do not qualify as low-income.
Donovan urged those affected to contact HUD housing counselors who can help them seek the right assistance from HUD, FEMA, IRS and other agencies.
For those returning to work in New York City, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has slowly reopened subways with a new recovery service map (.pdf), started bus lines, and begun to allow traffic on its bridges except for the Hugh L. Carey and Queens Midtown.
The Transportation Department will continue to help commuters with more than 350 buses in New Jersey to replace disrupted commuter rail services, as well as planning connections with ferries and rail access to reach Hoboken, Weehawken, Jersey City, and Manhattan, as well as local destinations.
For those with impacted businesses, the Small Business Administration has opened recovery centers to help business owners seeking disaster assistance. Fugate said business owners should turn to SBA loans only after filing insurance claims to make sure all in need have access to assistance.