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Congress will have to take up the federal government’s role in paying for the recovery of the areas of the Northeast damaged by Superstorm Sandy and the most recent Nor’Easter, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday.
That could come in the form of a supplemental appropriation, as a recent letter signed by 44 lawmakers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut urged, one that Schumer and the representatives from Long Island support.
But Schumer, speaking at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington, said the review of the need from the “huge damage” in New York and the area might have to be broader.
“We have the money at least to deal with it immediately,” he said, of an estimated $5 billion available now. “Will that be enough? I don’t believe it will be.”
He added, “And there are other areas that are very much needed in disaster relief -- transportation, CDBG [Community Development Block Grants], flood insurance -- that have to be looked at as well.”
Much of the areas flooded, including on Long Island, were in the flood zone where flood insurance is required, he said. But as storms in other parts of the county have shown, many homeowners likely do not have the required flood insurance.
“How we’re going to deal with that issue is one of the issues we have to face,” Schumer said.
And for those who do have flood insurance, he asked, will it be adequate?
“Those who pay flood insurance have a legal binding commitment from the government to pay it,” Schumer said. “And that s gong to happen. We’re going to have to come up with the dollars for it.”
But as he spoke, he said he does not how much more federal money will be needed in a supplemental appropriation or to back up flood insurance, transportation repairs and other needs.
“We don’t know the numbers yet. We just don’t know the numbers,” he said.
Some people estimate 100,000 homes are unlivable, he said, or about 300,000 people, the size of a major American city.