Long-suffering Long Islanders may soon see some additional Hurricane Sandy rebuild relief from the Federal Government.
A new program funded by Federal Supplemental Disaster Aid promises to bring nearly $150 million to the area and will also feature a unique, bottom-up structure that will give residents influence on how the money is spent.
The program was announced at a press conference last Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said the federal money would feed a Community Reconstruction Zones program. He said the program was formulated to allow communities to establish teams of officials, residents and community leaders who would dictate where funding was allotted.
“What we are trying to do today is a totally different approach,” Cuomo said Thursday. “If we have been going top-down then [we need] bottom-up. What does the community think it needs to rebuild and what are the best ideas and the best vision that the community has to rebuild? And let’s fund the community’s vision rather than asking the community to fit into the template established up above.”
Cuomo explained that plans for each community may take up to eight months to complete. After plans are sent in and approved, he said, funds will be granted. Cuomo added that communities will be able to compete for bonus money, which will be awarded to those ideas that make the best use of community involvement, regional collaboration, or show the most promise in terms of technology or urban planning.
Slightly more than $145 million will go to 12 Community Reconstruction Zones in Nassau County. Additional money will also be allocated to areas in Suffolk County, as well as coastal areas in New York City and upstate. Among Nassau County communities, the largest sums will be given to Oceanside, Island Park, Barnum Island, Harbor Isle and Long Beach.
The allotments, Cuomo said, were determined based on the amount of damage each zone sustained, as well as the amount of assistance already awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
An optimistic Cuomo closed his speech by saying that nothing can knock New Yorkers down. “Nothing ever has and nothing ever will,” he said.