The Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy: Resources for State Recovery

Picture of Weather Map

Jan. 29, 2012

In light of Hurricane Sandy, this page offers a collection of resources and information to assist state legislatures as they respond to the needs of their constituents. President Obama signed disaster declarations for New Jersey and New York making additional federal support for state and local efforts available, as well as direct federal assistance to affected individuals in declared counties.

Congressional Action

On Jan. 28, the Senate passed the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act (H.R. 152), which provides $50.6 billion to fund short and long-term relief and recovery efforts for the areas adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy as well as funding for future disaster assistance. The bill was previously passed the House on Jan. 15. The bill includes billions of dollars in transportation, infrastructure and natural resources provisions. See our Disaster Relief Appropriations Act Info Alert for a rundown of these provisons.

On Jan. 29, the bill was presented to and signed by President Obama.

Federal Activity

On Feb. 4, The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $2 billion in emergency aid funds to transit agencies affected by Hurricane Sandy, through its new Emergency Relief Program. The money will go to reimburse state and local transportation services for expenses incurred during the Hurricane, including equipment damage, evacuation costs, rescue operations and more. See the NCSL Info Alert for more details.

NCSL Activity

Department of Homeland Security

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Recovery Center: A disaster recovery center is a readily accessible facility or mobile office where applicants may go for information about FEMA or other disaster assistance programs, or for questions related to your case. This web page offers information regarding their locations and registration for assistance.

Department of Energy (DOE)

Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

ACF is offering guidance on:

Head Start

Head Start grantees will have broad flexibility within existing law and regulations to continue providing services in a safe environment to as many children and families as possible after a disaster.  Office of Head Start (OHS) Central Office and Regional Program Offices are available to help grantees design a program that meets changing community needs.  OHS also has specific waiver authority for requirements such as the limit on administrative expenditures; non-federal share of funding; class size and ratios; teacher qualifications and days of operation.

ACF Regional Offices can help in addressing any specific state questions. You can find contact information on ACF's Regional Offices here.

U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

USDA Disaster Assistance Programs

U.S. Department of Education

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the department is reaching out to state education agencies (SEAs), local education agencies (LEAs), institutions of higher education (IHEs), and state and local disaster recovery coordinators to let them know about issue-specific recovery resources.  Also, the department is posting relevant information on a new Hurricane Sandy web page

Among the steps taken to date:

  • The department extended the application deadline for the Race to the Top-District competition. For school districts in states affected by Sandy and for which the president has issued a major disaster declaration or an emergency declaration, the new deadline is Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 4:30 p.m. Washington, D.C., time.  For all other districts, the new deadline is today, Nov. 2, at 4:30 p.m. Washington, D.C., time.
  • Secretary Arne Duncan issued a statement encouraging colleges, universities, and scholarship programs across the country to consider extending their early November application deadlines to accommodate students who were affected by Sandy and who may be experiencing hardships.  (Note: The National Association for College Admissions Counseling is maintaining a list of IHEs with extended deadlines .)
  • The Departments of Education and Agriculture reminded states and schools they may use stocks of foods purchased for the National School Lunch Program to help prepare meals at schools, shelters, or other congregate sites to feed local residents who may be in need of nutrition assistance.
  • Coming soon to the department's Sandy website: a toll-free number and dedicated email address for Sandy-related inquiries and questions and updated guidance on flexibility and waivers for SEAs, LEAs, IHEs, and other grantee and program participants
  • Also, after hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, the department developed a brochure, “Tips for Helping Students Recovering from Traumatic Events,”  to assist educators and parents who have students suffering from loss.

 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

On a conference call on Oct. 30, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted that:

  • The Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program provides funding to states to repair damage to federal-aid highways caused by natural disasters or catastrophic events and that emergency repairs needed to restore essential travel or protect highways from further damage are eligible for 100 percent reimbursement within the first 180 days, although this time frame can be extended under certain circumstances.
  • The Federal Transit Agency will consider deferring local match requirements for federal funds for what will likely be a number of cash-strapped transit agencies impacted by the storm.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued an Eastern Regional Emergency Declaration to temporarily lift certain requirements and regulations including hours of service requirements, certain inspection and maintenance requirements, and record keeping requirements, and others in order assist drivers and operators providing emergency relief.
  • The FAA’s Air Traffic Management facilities in the NYC area have largely restored their ability to provide services and are awaiting the resumption of air traffic.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued an Eastern Regional Emergency Declaration that temporarily lifts certain requirements and regulations. The safety regulations waived under this declaration include, among others, hours of service requirements, certain inspection and maintenance requirements, and record keeping requirements. Also, utility vehicles are exempt from hours of service requirements.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic System Command Center is maintaining constant communication with airlines, the military, business aviation, and airports affected by the storm, all of whom will advise the FAA about flight schedules and plans to resume operations into affected areas. The FAA is also assessing damage to quickly repair or re-establish air traffic facilities or critical navigational aids affected by Sandy.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

  • HUD Foreclosure Protection: President Obama issued a disaster declaration for Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Richmond, Suffolk and Queens counties in New York and New Jersey. The president’s declaration allows HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to certain families living in these counties.
  • Offering states and local communities the ability to re-allocate existing federal resources toward disaster relief: HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs give states and communities the flexibility to redirect millions of dollars to address critical needs, including housing and services for disaster victims. HUD is currently contacting State and local officials to explore opportunities to use the Department's CDBG and HOME programs in order to expedite the repair and replacement of damaged housing.
  • Granting immediate foreclosure relief: HUD granted a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages.
  • Making mortgage insurance available: HUD's Section 203(h) program provides FHA insurance to disaster victims who have lost their homes and are facing the daunting task of rebuilding or buying another home. Borrowers from participating FHA-approved lenders are eligible for 100 percent financing.
  • Making insurance available for both mortgages and home rehabilitation: HUD's Section 203(k) loan program enables those who have lost their homes to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home.
  • Offering Section 108 loan guarantee assistance: HUD will offer state and local governments federally guaranteed loans for housing rehabilitation, economic development and repair of public infrastructure.
  • Information on housing providers and HUD programs: The department will share information with FEMA and the State on housing providers that may have available units in the impacted counties. This includes Public Housing Agencies and Multi-Family owners. The department will also connect FEMA and the state to subject matter experts to provide information on HUD programs and providers.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

  • SBA Disaster Loans: The SBA announced that it is working with FEMA and other federal partners to provide relief and assistance to those affected by Hurricane Sandy, with emergency programs that include: (1) Home Disaster Loans; (2) Business Physical Disaster Loans; and (3) Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs).
    For those looking to file an application for assistance, filing deadlines include:
    • Physical damage: Dec. 31, 2012
    • Economic injury: July 31, 2013
    For more information, visit the SBA disaster relief webpage or call the SBA disaster assistance center at (800) 659-2955.

Information Regarding the Status of Federal Elections

Election officials in states affected by Hurricane Sandy are expressing confidence that the election next week will occur as scheduled. Only Congress can postpone a federal election and has never done so. Governors in affected states have issued executive orders to allow for extended deadlines for early voting and receipt of absentee ballots. States are also working with federal agencies to ensure military and overseas ballots are received and counted.  For more information on specific conditions in an impacted state, please contact the National Association of Secretaries of State, or 202-624-3525.

Additional Information
  • In 2008, some NASS members participated in a task force on emergency contingency planning with other state and federal agencies and organizations and produced a template for emergency planning.
  • In 2004, the Congressional Research Service produced a report on state election laws related to emergency planning for elections.
  • Finally, the Election Assistance Commission prepared Quick Start Guides which were developed with input from states who experienced Hurricane Katrina.

Additional Resources

DisasterAssistance.GOV offers individuals a composite of information on federal assistance and the ability to apply for services after a disaster.

As more resources become available, NCSL will update this site. And as always, should there be anything NCSL can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact us.

For the assistance of your constiuents there are locally managed assistance lines throughout the region.
311 online or by phone for citizen service nonemergent requests or complaints:

United Way of Boston Bay and Merrimack Valley 211 Get Help Line

American Red Cross
  • Contact and Locate Loved Ones: The American Red Cross Safe and Well website is a central location for people in disaster areas in the United States to register their current status, and for their loved ones to access that information. It helps provide displaced families with relief and comfort during a stressful time.
  • Find Open Shelters: Search for open Red Cross shelters by address, city, state, and/or zip code. Shelter information is updated every 30 minutes from the National Shelter System.
  • Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Financial Issues (A5076)

UnitedHealth Group
  • Free Help Line: Optum, a health and behavioral health services company, is offering a free emotional-support help line. The toll-free number, 866-342-6892, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as necessary. The service is free of charge and open to anyone. Along with the toll-free help line, emotional support resources and information are available online.

National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)
  • LawHelp helps low and moderate income people find free legal aid programs in their communities, answers to questions about their legal rights, and find forms to help with their legal problems with links to state information and resources.

National Donations Management Network
  • Aidmatrix Network: FEMA, the Aidmatrix Foundation and Corporate Sponsors have partnered to launch a virtual portal to allow companies or individuals to offer their support on-line to leading organizations in humanitarian relief. This portal is designed to make it as easy to offer financial support, product donations, or to donate your skills and time to nonprofit organizations active in disaster relief.