National sites on LI to get federal funding for Sandy recovery

Homes on Fire Island Avenue in Babylon Village Homes on Fire Island Avenue in Babylon Village were flooded due to Sandy sweeping through Long Island. (Oct. 30, 2012) Photo Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

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Fire Island, the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex are slated to receive federal funding to help with their recovery from damages inflicted by superstorm Sandy, officials said Tuesday.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced in a news release that officials are freeing up $475.25 million in relief funding for 234 projects that will rebuild structures and institutions damaged by the storm that ravaged the Eastern Seaboard in October.

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"The funding we are making available today will help repair and rebuild facilities, reopen roads and restore services in order to get our parks, refuges, beaches, and public lands fully operational and open to the public this summer," Jewell said. "We will continue to focus our efforts on rebuilding to welcome visitors, help jump-start local economies, and make communities stronger and more resilient to help withstand potential damage from future storms."

On Fire Island alone, officials said, Sandy's forceful winds and high tides wrecked the natural dunes and beaches as well as man-made structures like boardwalks, the lighthouse dock and visitor facilities, causing $10 million in damages.

The Department of the Interior's National Park Service will release more than $14 million, minus some funding to account for sequestration, for Fire Island and Sagamore Hill projects in Oyster Bay, while the Fish and Wildlife Service will release $6.3 million, minus sequestered funds, for the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge projects, composed of nine wildlife refuge areas throughout the Island, which include debris removal, roof repair, and generator and electrical improvements.

Officials said that the Department of the Interior received $829.2 million in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, but that figure was reduced by $42.5 million to $786.7 million because of the sequestration.

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"We will continue to work closely with the states and members of Congress to design effective programs and to ensure that all funds are used to help get communities back on their feet," said National Park Service director Jonathan B. Jarvis, who is the agency's representative to the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.

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