We've come a long way in the six months since superstorm Sandy transformed the New York landscape.
In the immediate aftermath of the storm, thousands were without power, the subways and tunnels were filled with water; many hospitals shut down, including Bellevue, Coney Island and NYU Langone hospitals; and thousands of homes were unlivable.
But this is New York. We bounce back. State, tribal and local governments have joined forces with a host of federal agencies, as well as businesses, volunteers and survivors, to get things up and running again.
Today the signs of recovery can be seen across Long Island and the city, and more than $6.6 billion in federal assistance has been distributed to New York communities and survivors.
Are we done? No. This is just the beginning.
Now we turn to the next phase in recovery. Just as we brought together every sector of the federal government immediately after the storm, in the months that followed, we've brought together a roster of partners to help rebuild New York.
More than 30 federal agencies and national organizations participate in the National Disaster Recovery Framework, leveraging the specialties of all our federal partners.
We're working in support of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force appointed by President Barack Obama to recommend policies for the future and guide expenditures in connection with the over $60 billion provided by the Hurricane Sandy Recovery and Improvement Act, which the president signed into law earlier this year.
Many groups have gathered in various combinations over the months -- all in an effort to ensure that recovery is coordinated, that the plans made at one level are consistent with those at other levels and that no available resources are left on the table. Topics have ranged from structural risk reduction for hospitals and strengthening the power grid on Long Island to protecting tunnels from flooding. At the heart of the recovery activities are people -- children, seniors and families. All are active participants in recovery.
This isn't an effort by government alone. We continue to work with our partners in the private sector, voluntary agencies and the faith-based community to ensure that we don't duplicate efforts and we're addressing the needs of everyone impacted by this storm.
Together we are committed to build back stronger. Families will continue to move back into safe homes. Repairs that reduce future risk will continue on roads, bridges, schools and other public buildings. In time, the landscape will again be transformed, and a New York will emerge that is stronger in the face of future disasters.
Michael F. Byrne, a former New York City firefighter, is the federal coordinating officer, the lead federal official, for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in connection with the Hurricane Sandy New York disaster operation. Ken Curtin, formerly with the American Red Cross, is the federal disaster recovery coordinator. Both are native New Yorkers.