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The Tri-State Area Awaits Sandy Disaster-Relief Funds

Tommy Miles, Flickr

President Barack Obama says he'll sign a $50.5 billion emergency measure for Superstorm Sandy victims as soon as it lands on his desk. The U.S. Senate approved the bill Monday after the House earlier this month had stripped the bill of spending unrelated to disasters.

President Obama chided lawmakers for taking their time to approve the funding. Conservatives concerned about adding billions of dollars to the nation's debt opposed the measure, but the Senate cleared the bill Monday, 62-36. Lawmakers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, as well as in other Northeastern areas struck by the October 29 storm, said the money is urgently needed to start rebuilding.

That’s Ron Levine, spokesman for Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef. Hard-hit areas in Rockland included Nyack and Stony Point. And portions of Westchester and Putnam Counties were devastated. Even parts of lower Dutchess were hit.

Rockland’s Levine says money is needed not only for individual homes and businesses, but to fix bridges and roads, and replace trees and vegetation.

In a statement, New York Governor Andrew  Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy praised what they called the tenacious efforts of their respective Congressional delegations in steering the Sandy aid package through their respective houses and bringing the aid home to their people. Here are remarks from U.S. Democratic Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand upon passing the relief bill.

In mentioning “CDBG”, she refers to the Community Development Block Grant program.

Meanwhile, The American Red Cross Northeastern New York Region, issued a progress report Tuesday on its work in the aftermath of the storm. At the request of the federal government, the Red Cross is focusing its initial recovery assistance on an estimated 9,000 families whose houses were heavily damaged or destroyed.  Red Cross Spokeswoman Caroline Boardman says the federal disaster-aid package will not directly benefit her agency, but will help in other ways.

Since Sandy made landfall, the Red Cross has received more than $254 million in donations and pledges for Sandy. By January 31, the Red Cross will have spent or made commitments to spend an estimated $145 million, and the remaining Sandy donations will be used to help individuals and communities affected by this storm with their long-term needs. 

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