Monday, April 29, 2013
Disaster relief reality show proposed to help Sandy victims
"The last thing the world needs is another reality TV show, but this one is actually different. Attached is a 12 page proposal for a new reality show or series of shows related to the inside life of volunteerism and disaster relief:
The Real Volunteers of the Jersey Shore
The Real Volunteers of NY
The Real Volunteers - International Edition
and Volunteer Wars
If this show gets picked up and becomes widely viewed, it will certainly help to generate tens of millions of dollars in additional donations to victims of hurricane Sandy. Therefore anything each of us does to help get this show get to air will be an act of compassion for the suffering that is an everyday reality. This is not just great entertainment!" - Steve Major (the Arverne sinkhole guy)
Not a bad idea, especially since most people have chosen to stay and rebuild. And isn't it nice to know that months after the rescuers left, they're still thinking about us?
Then there's the guy who won't leave for a few months that has already forgotten about. From The Forum:
Reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, people throughout South Queens dug into their pockets – into retirement funds, into savings for children’s college tuition, into all sorts of accounts that were never meant to be used for what they were: to replace roofs and heating systems, to rebuild basements once submerged in water, to begin to piece together unrecognizable houses and make them places that could, once again, be called home.
Then, months later, there came word that, for those who dipped into accounts that now seemed dangerously close to empty, federal funding could be making its way, slowly, to them. That the tens of thousands of dollars – or more – many spent on work not covered by insurance or the Federal Emergency Management Agency may not be lost, that perhaps relief would finally be heading their way.
For many in New York state, as well as New Jersey, this seems to be coming true. But, in Queens, and the other four boroughs, Mayor Bloomberg said earlier this month that he does not plan to use any of the $1.77 billion in federal hurricane aid to reimburse homeowners who already spent money on rebuilding their homes, arguing that it would open too many possibilities for fraud and that the money should go to those who have not been able to afford repairs yet.
While the mayor is insistent that reimbursements not occur, a number of area legislators are pushing the federal government to squelch Bloomberg’s plan – which they are authorized to do – and ensure homeowners see at least some money come their way.
“The mayor should not punish responsible homeowners who utilized their savings to make repairs in an effort to get back into their storm-damaged homes,” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway) said. “Nearly 85 percent of my district, including my own home, was destroyed during Sandy and if homeowners and small businesses had waited more than six months for the city program to kick in, we would not have made any progress in recovery and there would be massive devastation throughout southern Queens and Rockaway.”
Goldfeder joined Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) for a press conference on Sunday in Far Rockaway to urge Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to use some of the $1.77 billion for reimbursement – a decision Goldfeder said the federal government could ostensibly make before it starts issuing payments around the end of May. HUD is administering the funding, though it is being allocated through the mayor’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief program. Additionally, the two legislators have sent a letter to Donovan on the matter, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has also reached out to the HUD secretary in an effort to secure funding for reimbursements.
In other Sandy news...
New York state's plan clears the way for the allocation of federal housing funds for a total of $1.7 billion, which breaks down to about $838 million in housing money and $415 million in economic development funds.
That will include buyouts for some homeowners and reimbursements for repairs that have not already been paid for by FEMA.
"We're not just going to build back, we're going to build back better than before," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "With the funding we have in the supplemental, with the response that we've had from all levels of government, I think we're poised to do that."
The money is also expected to be used for small business grants to get stores and restaurants open in time for the upcoming summer tourism season.
This initial approval is only a small portion of the $60 billion in supplemental appropriation approved by the federal government earlier this year. New York state's share of that is $35 billion.
Much of that remaining money will go towards long term projects like hardening critical infrastructure and reimbursing local governments for overtime incurred during the storm.