Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi:
In the Wake of one of the most severe storms to hit the Northeast region in decades, communities throughout several states are beginning to assess the damages caused by high winds, heavy rain and flooding of Hurricane Sandy. Thanks to an intense public awareness campaign, and the efforts of our emergency management agencies, the loss of life due to the storm was minimized.
While many communities continue to feel the effects of the storm, it is clear that damages to private property and public infrastructure across the region far exceed local governments’ ability to meet the needs of those affected. In our Long Island congressional districts, entire neighborhoods are flooded, the coastline is severely eroded, many roadways and bridges are in peril, and hundreds of our constituents cannot return to their homes.
As the winter months approach, Congress must act expeditiously to advance emergency disaster assistance to states and municipalities affected by Hurricane Sandy to ensure adequate resources are available to rebuild and repair our communities following the storm. This will undoubtedly be a tremendous undertaking given the hurricane’s expansive imprint along the eastern seaboard.
In fact, the overwhelming need to act quickly to prevent further human suffering, to restore our districts and so many affected communities and families along the East Coast makes it imperative that hurricane relief and recovery should be the first order of business once Congress reconvenes.
Indeed, it is the responsibility of Congress to ensure that federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USAGE), have adequate resources to assist states and local governments rebuild their infrastructure and property. Following a storm of this magnitude, it is also vital that small businesses are able to rebuild and restock quickly to ensure their doors remain open and protect the many jobs they sustain. Therefore, it is vital that the Small Business Administration andthe Department of Agriculture are properly equipped to assist individuals, businesses, farmers and fishermen hardest hit by the storm.
It is critical that Congress act immediately to ensure our neighbors across the Northeast have access to the resources they need to rebuild homes, businesses and communities. We stand ready to work with you, and our colleagues in Congress, towards this aim.
Carolyn McCarthy is the representative of New York’s Fourth Congressional District. She was first elected in 1996.