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Obama Administration to Press for Sandy Relief

HUD secretary tours devastated area, says government is in this for years to come.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan addresses the media at Tuesday's press conference in Bethpage. He is flanked by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, left, and Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone. Credit Joe Dowd
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan addresses the media at Tuesday's press conference in Bethpage. He is flanked by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, left, and Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone. Credit Joe Dowd
A top Obama Administration official toured Hurricane-devastated communities Tuesday and vowed to press Congress for additional funding to repair and rebuild Long Island homes and businesses.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan also vowed that the government is committed to the rebuilding effort for the "long term."

"The president has said we will be here for the long term," Donovan said at a press conference Tuesday in Bethpage. "We will not rebuild in a day or a week but we will come back through the years ahead until all of Long Island has recovered."

Donovan, a native of New York, serves as the Obama Administration’s chairman of the Hurricane Sandy Task Force.

He appeared at the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management with Nassau Executive Edward P. Mangano, Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone and a host of local leaders.

At issue are financial measures before Congress that would supplement existing federal loan programs for rebuilding after storms. Homeowners and businesses can not rebuild in the expensive Long Island market simply on the FEMA loan money available, Donovan said.

That figure is capped by law at about $32,000.

"Some will need much more than that to rebuild," Donovan said. The administration's supplemental request of $60 billion has yet to be approved by federal lawmakers.

"Every day that goes by is another day of grief and frustration for these families on Long Island," Donovan said.

Some $14 billion of the $60 billion request is targeted for rebuilding efforts that prevent damage from future storms.

Donovan said every dollar spent on mitigation efforts prevents $4 in future damage costs. Officials estimated that 150,000 homes on Long Island sustained moderate or major damage.

To date, some 70,000 families in Nassau have registered with FEMA for assistance; another 25,000 have requested aid in Suffolk, officials said.

Story by Joe Dowd

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