Nassau County and the City of Long Beach will receive $41 million in promised federal aid this week to help with superstorm Sandy cleanup efforts, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Sunday.
Long Beach will receive $24 million and Nassau County will receive $17.2 million to pay for the massive debris-removal effort, according to the latest figures provided by FEMA last night.
At a news conference inside Long Beach City Hall, Cuomo, joined by City Manager Jack Schnirman, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and State Director of Operations Howard Glaser, called the payments a "first step" and urged Congress to pass the state's request for $32 billion in additional disaster recovery funds. "Let's put the politics aside and do what's in the best interest of the people," Cuomo said, pressing Congress to vote before breaking for the holidays.
Mangano echoed the calls for swift action, saying the hard-hit county had a message for Congress: "Work together; this region is in need."
Schnirman said the $24 million in immediate funding will not only help with cleanup costs but also will "send the signal to Moody's on Wall Street that the city is viable and will maintain that access to capital and liquidity that we need to keep going."
The city has fought to keep its bond rating from being downgraded by Moody's Investors Service since being bumped from an A1 rating to Baa3 last December -- signaling to investors a move from a low-credit risk to a moderate one. In June, Moody's issued a statement that Long Beach was "no longer under review for downgrade" after city officials approved a "more conservative" $88 million 2012-13 budget.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), in a statement issued Sunday, said, "This federal cash was rushed to the community [Long Beach] to help deal with the financial burden, and it is just the start."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has to date made seven awards to New York municipalities, totaling $291.7 million across the seven counties in the state worst affected by Sandy, according to FEMA.
FEMA spokesman Ed Conley said such grants go to reimbursing municipalities for lifesaving and life-sustaining costs incurred during the storm and for repair costs for public-owned facilities or infrastructure. The money is released first to the state, which then reimburses local and county government.
"This is actually pretty early on in the recovery phase . . ." Conley said.