Feds still responding to Sandy as next storm hits

Victims of superstorm Sandy wait in line to apply for recovery assistance at a FEMA processing center in Coney Island on Friday, Nov. 2. Victims of superstorm Sandy wait in line to apply for recovery assistance at a FEMA processing center in Coney Island on Friday, Nov. 2. Bebeto Matthews/AP

This story has been updated. 

The federal government continued to boost its support this week to areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy, even as it braced for another storm on Wednesday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided more than $250 million in assistance to 277,000 individuals for housing and other disaster-related needs, the agency said.

FEMA also has increased its rental subsidy for those displaced by Sandy. It temporarily increased by 25 percent the Housing and Urban Development Department’s fair market rate -- the amount of financial assistance the government provides to disaster victims to pay for “shelter and all other tenant-paid utilities except telephone, cable and Internet service.”

FEMA has put boots on the ground to knock on doors in affected regions to inform victims of the assistance opportunities available to them.

On Monday, FEMA Director Craig Fugate and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited New York City to tour the damage and review ongoing recovery efforts with local leaders. FEMA is part of the Homeland Security Department.

On Election Day Tuesday, FEMA coordinated with local and state governments to evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether federal resources could assist in obtaining new polling facilities or provide emergency power, the agency said.

As FEMA continued to deal with Sandy’s aftermath, it also was responding to a nor’easter storm that has hit much of the same region struck by Sandy.

“We have senior-level emergency management experts in operations, logistics and recovery embedded side by side with state and local emergency managers throughout New York and New Jersey to ensure clear lines of communication and immediately bring to bear the full resources of the federal government, as needed to respond to the nor’easter or continue to the recovery efforts from Sandy,” FEMA said in a statement.

Among federal resources is the Agriculture Department, which has restored power to more than 130,000 rural customers on USDA-financed systems affected by Sandy.

Additional agencies contributing to recovery efforts include the Army Corps of Engineers, which has sent more than 600 personnel to assist in cleanup; the National Guard, which has deployed more than 7,600 personnel in the affected region; the Transportation Department, which has made $29 million in emergency funds available to restore damage; and the Health and Human Services Department, which has sent more than 1,000 personnel as part of 15 disaster medical assistance teams.

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