The Hurricane Sandy Task Force, chaired by U.S. Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, proposed a number of initiatives to assist families, businesses and communities left in shambles following the storm.
“Families understand that we must protect our communities and we must rebuild in different ways,” Donovan said. “A storm that inflicted over 150 lost lives, displaced thousands of our fellow citizens and created tens of billions of dollars in damage gives us one strong imperative: to make sure that we rebuild stronger and smarter.”
With the job of overseeing the $50 billion from the President’s Disaster Relief Appropriations Act passed by Congress in January 2013, Donovan’s task force is working with the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF) to promote resilient rebuilding incentives.
The task force has worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Army Corp. of Engineers to develop a web app to help families and small businesses learn about current and future risks for up to a century into the future.
“To put this into practice, we have developed a single federal flood risk reduction standard that is applied to every single rebuilding project funded by the Federal government after Sandy,” Donovan said at a press conference at Broadway Stages in Greenpoint on Monday.
The plan includes creating a “smarter” electrical grid by establishing regional guidelines across the country, providing families safe affordable housing options, and simulcasting small business recovery information on the web.
Donovan assured that rebuilding efforts and assisting with 250,000 families and thousands of businesses across the region is just the first step in recovery.
“This rebuilding strategy will protect families, small businesses and communities across the region, and the taxpayers’ investments in them, from the risks posed by sea level rise and more extreme weather events,” he said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined Donovan at the press conference, and reminded people of the devastating Newtown Creek storm surge that extended for miles inland in parts of Brooklyn and Long Island City during Sandy.
“We’ve identified practical cost effective measures that would protect us in the future,” Bloomberg said, referring to a plan for a local storm surge barrier on Newtown Creek and other vulnerable locations around the city.
He added that while the work of the Hurricane Task Force is “winding down,” the job of effectively aiding those affected by the storm is far from over.
“We have to assure that every penny is being spent the way that it should be spent if we want the taxpayer to be there the next time we need federal funds,” he said. “Second, and very importantly, keeping federal flood insurance affordable for those who are rebuilding their homes to make them more secure.”