Photo: Daniel Goodman/Business Insider
After days of tension political infighting and public eruptions, Congress finally voted Friday to approved $9.7 billion in disaster relief funds to provide flood insurance for victims of Hurricane Sandy.The vote temporarily quells the bipartisan outrage over Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s earlier decision to pull the plug on the bill. But lawmakers in New York and New Jersey are not fully placated, and are bracing themselves for a bigger battle over the remainder of the relief package that still awaits approval in Congress.
That’s because the bill that passed the House of Representatives on Friday is only a small part of the $60 billion in disaster relief funds sought by the states affected by Hurricane Sandy. The bulk of that money will pay for more visible recovery efforts that will be felt broadly in devastated communities — road repairs, rebuilding public infrastructure, and providing disaster relief funding to families and businesses.
We headed out to Rockaway Beach this week to get a firsthand view of how critical this relief money will be to communities affected by Sandy. More than two months after Sandy hit, this blue-collar beachside community is still struggling to recover from the superstorm, which devasted homes, businesses, and civic life up and down the shoreline.
The Rockaways, an isolated 11-mile peninsula in Queens, was one of the New York communities hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy.
We saw this military convoy leaving when we arrived. The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a study of shoreline protection for the Rockaways.
Life along the beach has been completely destroyed. This sports court was ripped apart by the storm.
Here's what remains of the old Rockaway Beach boardwalk. The city wants to rebuild it with concrete — a project that would be helped along by federal funding.
Strange objects litter the beach as mementos of the hurricane. This jigsaw puzzle appears to have been stranded in the sand since the storm.
An ambulance waits outside one of the few inhabitable buildings along the shore. City planners are working to give residents of the Rockaways better access to emergency responders during natural disasters.
It will take a long time before the Rockaways returns to the thriving seaside neighbourhood it once was.
Much of the neighbourhood's civic life is still on hold. This senior centre has been shuttered indefinitely.
Two men work to repair a beachfront apartment complex devastated by the storm. Despite the clear day, very few crews could be seen working on the buildings Thursday.
This check-cashing and payday lending store advertises that it cashes FEMA checks — but its not clear how long those checks will keep coming if Congress doesn't act.
Even non-storm-related federal money is hard to come by in this neighbourhood. The Social Security Administration was forced to shut down because of Sandy damage.
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