Senate passes relief bill for Sandy damage

Rhode Island will receive an as-of-yet undetermined portion of the $50.5 billion of aid

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, January 31, 2013

The U.S. Senate passed a bill Jan. 28 allocating $50.5 billion of aid to facilitate reconstruction in states affected by Hurricane Sandy last October.

Three months later, the East Coast is still recovering from Sandy, which left wreckage and destruction in Rhode Island’s coastal areas. The state requested additional assistance for housing insurance after $10 million of initial emergency funds were allocated to repair highways and infrastructure.

The funding “will help Rhode Island communities hurt by Hurricane Sandy to rebuild,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., in a press release.

Rhode Island’s congressmen voiced frustration about the Republican caucus’ inaction.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., wrote that Republican leaders are “incomprehensible and irresponsible” for not responding quickly to alleviate suffering for victims in a tweet Jan. 2.

Reed was one of the main advocates of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.

Rhode Islanders are ready to make repairs and rebuild their lives, but lack the necessary funds to do so, he said in an interview with WPRI.

The amount of aid appropriated to Rhode Island will not be determined until President Obama signs the legislation into law, said Richard Luchette, communications director for Rep. David Cicilline ’83, D-R.I.

The bill’s language currently allocates funds to various governmental departments, with the largest amounts of funding going toward roadway reconstruction, flood control, housing restoration and transit line rehabilitation.

Luchette said the fight for additional funding was long and grueling but added that passage in the Senate is a victory worth celebrating. “This was the culmination of the efforts (of Rhode Island legislators). … It’s long overdue.”

He added that in a time of crisis, it is important for Republicans and Democrats to “set aside their differences and work together.”