Senate Passes $60B Disaster Relief Bill

Aid package awaits vote in Congress.

By a 63-32 vote on Friday, the U.S. Senate passed a $60.4 billion emergency aid package for Hurricane Sandy victims throughout the Tri-State Area, including from Long Beach.   

Next, the disaster-relief bill goes to Congress, were some lawmakers want the aid reduced or demand other spending cuts, and President Obama must sign the legislation. Among the bill’s features is funding for homeowners and business owner to rebuild — homeowners are presently eligiable for up to $31,900 for rebuilding from Federal Emergency Management Agency — fortifying the coastline and the Long Beach Medical Center, according to Newsday

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Speaking on Saturday from the storm-damaged home of Fran Adelson, a Long Beach City Council member, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said that if the bill fails to pass in the House by Thursday, when the new Congress comes into session, the process must start over. Said Schumer:

"We need the bill on the floor, and we need it now.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a joint statement: 

“We now urge the House to act swiftly this weekend in recognition of its obligation and responsibility to take action in this instance, just as it always has, for citizens of other states across the country who have endured the devastation of natural disaster.”

Meanwhile, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Byrne on Friday gave an update on the agency’s response and recovery efforts at the Long Beach Ice Arena, which  has served as a disaster recovery center since the storm. Byrne said that FEMA has provided more than $800 million to individual households, and the Small Business Administration has processed more than $320 million in disaster low interest rates, according to CBS New York.

But some residents contend the agency is dragging its feet and the money is insufficient. Long Beach resident Monica Miller said:

“They give me a couple thousand dollars to go stay in a hotel. How long is a couple a thousand dollars going to last you?”
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