Monday, April 21, 2014
The Associated Press
LAVALLETTE, N.J. - Even as Congress passed the first part of an aid package for victims of Superstorm Sandy, many victims seethed, wondering why it took so long.
Piles of debris line portions of Route 35, the main highway through the shore in Toms River, N.J., on Friday, as Congress voted to approve aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy.
The Associated Press
The $9.7 billion measure approved Friday allows the National Flood Insurance Program to continue to pay claims. It was due to run out of money next week.
But some of those still lugging waterlogged debris from homes or shoveling sand from lawns and walkways after the late October storm weren't impressed.
"I think it's horrible it took this long," said Susan VanVeen, of Randolph, N.J., who was part of a volunteer group that drove to Lavallette to help clean up strangers' homes. "This area is completely devastated. It's still probably going to be weeks before people get this money. This should have happened a long time ago."
John Condit of Seaside Heights, N.J., which lost the boardwalk upon which much of the "Jersey Shore" reality series was filmed, also said the delay in approving aid after the storm was disgraceful.
"It's just criminal," he said. "We do all this work for other countries, but when it comes to us, it takes like 60 days. You pay taxes, and your government is supposed to be there for you. That's part of the deal."
Mike Furrey, part of the volunteer group in Lavallette, said he was angry about the delay in approving aid.
"They turned their backs on New Jersey and New York, but when Katrina happened, or things in other parts of the country, they act right away. I'm not going to vote for anyone who is in Congress right now, no matter what party, no matter if it's the House or the Senate."
Friday's vote was the first of two anticipated votes, with a much larger appropriation of $51 billion coming up for consideration Jan. 15.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who blasted the leaders of his own party in the House when they failed to vote on an aid bill earlier this week, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, issued a joint plea for Congress to pass both parts of the aid package.
"While we are pleased with this progress, today was just a down payment and it is now time to go even further and pass the final and more complete, clean disaster aid bill," the governors said in their statement. "We are trusting Congress to act accordingly on January 15th and pass the final $51 billion instrumental for long-term rebuilding in order for New Jersey, New York and our people to recover after the severe devastation of Hurricane Sandy."
Barbara Kirchoff of Keansburg, N.J., said that her parents' home was devastated by the storm, and that politicians in Washington don't seem to care.
"My parents have nothing," she said. "They need this money. A good portion of my town is a ghost town. They need help, now."
Nigel Jawad, who works at the Amazing Deli in the Ocean Breeze section of New York City's Staten Island, said most customers complain about a lack of financial assistance.
"Everybody keeps saying, 'Where is the money?' That's all I hear from people," he said. "People have no confidence in the government anymore."
The storm scoured parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and caused more than $60 billion in damage.
House Speaker John Boehner had delayed a vote on the aid package earlier this week but under pressure, scheduled a vote on the flood insurance portion Friday.
Without the money, the flood program could have run out of money next week.
Christie showed he was willing to aim barbs at the highest reaches of his party, saying the overall $60 billion in costs "could not overcome the toxic internal politics of the House majority."