After Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the White House heeded U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand’s recent call and agreed to increase the share the federal government is paying for repairing public property damage by Superstorm Sandy from 75% to 90%, the Senators announced today that more than a dozen Sandy recovery projects across New York City and Long Island will now be eligible for an additional $211 million in federal funds. The more than $1 billion in federal reimbursement represent 90% of the estimated costs of projects that have been awarded FEMA Public Assistance funding to-date. Additionally, any future FEMA funding to cover Superstorm Sandy recovery projects will be funded at a 90% federal cost-share.
Federal law requires that FEMA pay at least 75% of eligible costs after a disaster, and once federal obligations meet or exceed $133 per resident, FEMA can recommend that the President adjust the federal cost–share up to 90% or more. On April 30, New York crossed this critical threshold and Schumer and Gillibrand called on FEMA the next day to move forward with this request in order to prevent local taxpayers from holding the bag.
“This announcement represents the beginning of the fruits of our efforts to get the federal government to pick up 90% of the cost of the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy,” said Schumer. “Instead of local ratepayers and taxpayers paying for 25% of this massive storm themselves, it will now be 10%, making it less likely that local taxes and rates will have to go up or services will be cut. Since day one we’ve been fighting for the federal government to pick up as much of the cost as possible, and today we are seeing the results of those efforts.”
“This is an important day in the recovery process as millions more in critical emergency funds will go towards our New York communities who were devastated by Superstorm Sandy and who desperately need relief,” said Gillibrand. “With a storm of this magnitude comes an enormous cleanup cost. Our communities should not have to shoulder this burden alone. I am pleased that the federal government will be increasing its share of the aid.”
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act allows the President to adjust federal cost-shares for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program. The Stafford Act requires FEMA to pay at least 75 percent of eligible costs, including repair, restoration and debris removal. Once federal obligations meet or exceed $133 per capita of the state’s population ($2.6 billion in the case of New York), FEMA can recommend the President to adjust the federal cost-share from 75 percent to 90 percent.
On April 30, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) was obligated over $267 million through FEMA’s Public Assistance program for Superstorm Sandy. With this obligation, New York State exceeded the $133 per capita requirement and FEMA was able to recommend that the President adjust the federal cost-share. Schumer and Gillibrand urged FEMA to swiftly approve this cost share.
At the time of their request, Schumer and Gillibrand noted that, in the past, FEMA has almost always made such a recommendation to the President. They made the case that between FY2006 and FY2010, more than 19 disaster declarations have had their cost share adjusted from 75 to 90 percent. They explained the enormity in which Superstorm Sandy damaged New York State; the storm destroyed homes, businesses, and infrastructure and has cost New York State billions of dollars to repair. They went on to say that Superstorm Sandy victims in New York have already laid out hundreds or thousands of dollars because of the storm and that this federal cost-share adjustment would save local taxpayer money.
Attached is a list of Sandy recovery projects and their new funding reimbursements.