Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hazards of Handing Out Hurricane Sandy Funds

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

The Hoboken mayor was disappointed by the small amount of federal funds received after Hurricane Sandy. Looking at how Mitigation Grants were distributed I don't blame her. These funds were spread out a mile wide and an inch deep. 

It's common sense. When limited funds are received to prepare for future storms, the money should be targeted to do the most good. Here was an opportunity to help save our coast from a rising ocean.

Hoboken sits on the tidal estuary of the Hudson River.  Over a thousand buildings were seriously damaged by tide waters laced with sewerage, yet Hoboken received the same funding as East Hanover, a town 23 miles inland. 

Dover is even smaller and further inland. Storm damage was far less severe, yet it received nearly as much funding as Hoboken.  This made no sense until I remembered the shocking endorsement of Christie for Governor by Dover Democrats. Could it be related?  Should we be looking into whether Sandy Relief funds were influenced more by political calculations than storm related issues?

A state executive said funds were distributed in a "methodical way with stakeholder input." How were these stakeholders chosen?  Was it based on future storm hazards or future political ambitions? I have questions.


Hoboken storm funding: The programs at the center of the controversy

The Star-Ledger January 21, 2014

By Erin O'Neill


The governor’s office claims nearly $70 million in disaster relief has funneled into Hoboken since Hurricane Sandy.

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer says her flood-ravaged city has been awarded only $342,000 in recovery aid.

Both are right.

They’re right because they’re talking apples and oranges.

The mayor is referring to money that has been awarded to the city’s government. The governor’s office cites the large pool of federal money directly given to businesses and residents.

The back and forth between the mayor and the state highlights the confusion over the billions of dollars flowing into New Jersey in Sandy’s wake. There are no fewer than 50 state-administered recovery programs, along with big federal programs that have provided the bulk of the aid. [snip]

Read more at the link above.

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