States hit by Sandy to get next $5 bln of recovery funding

NEW YORK Mon Oct 28, 2013 3:57pm EDT

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NEW YORK Oct 28 (Reuters) - Federal officials on Monday unveiled plans for a second round of Superstorm Sandy disaster relief totaling $5 billion for five states and New York City, and they pledged that the pace of spending would pick up after a slow start.

Announced just a day shy of the anniversary of the storm's New York-area landfall, the funds will come from nearly $48 billion in federal funds earmarked for disaster recovery. As of August, just under a quarter of that package had been obligated to areas hit by the storm.

"In year one, we all agreed the aid flowed too slowly," Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said at a news conference. "The second year will be a lot better. The spigot is now open."

New York State will get nearly $2.1 billion in the second round of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development block grant money. New Jersey will get almost $1.5 billion and New York City another $1.3 billion. Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island will also receive some of the funds.

Officials said a third tranche could be allocated by the end of the year.

Before they can spend the money, states must draw up action plans, subject to public comment periods, that detail how they plan to improve infrastructure, housing and other ongoing needs after Sandy.

As part of their plans, recipients have to lay out potential risks from climate change.

"We must prepare our communities for the impact of a changing climate," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who noted that 12 of the warmest years have been in the past 15 years. Donovan was tapped by President Obama to oversee the federal government's response to Sandy.

Congress initially authorized $50 billion for Sandy recovery, but the automatic spending cuts that kicked in earlier this year reduced that target to about $47.9 billion.

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