New York lawmakers pushing for more aid for Sandy cleanup
New York's senators and congressional representatives are making the case for the state to get billions of dollars in federal aid after Superstorm Sandy. Both Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand delivered heartfelt testimony Thursday. Our Erin Billups was at the hearing in Washington, D.C. and has more.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It was the story of a Staten Island mother's loss that captivated lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday.
"A ten foot wave came across the road. Her vehicle stalled, she took her children out of the car. She tried to get them to higher land and they were taken from her arms. These children were two years old and four years old and the mother could do nothing about it. Because the storm was so strong. Now she's just one story of many," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
About 20 Senators and House members recounted stories of loss and devastation resulting from Hurricane Sandy during the lawmakers’ first hearing examining the storm.
"We cleaned up the surface rather quickly, but there are still much deeper and continuing challenges that remain," said Representative Michael Grimm.
The focus of the hearing was the need for preventative measures, like building better flood infrastructure.
New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez said, "The urgency of now is critical, because if we get a Nor’easter, based on what we've suffered after Superstorm Sandy, then the effects would be devastating for us."
New York's Senior Senator Charles Schumer called for an acceleration of funding for already approved Army Corps of Engineer projects to shore up the state's coastlines. He also hopes to get a provision authorizing a comprehensive study of the New York Harbor into the supplemental disaster aid bill currently being drafted.
"We need the Army Corps to start right away and do a study. They did that in New Orleans and then they build a series of levees, and barriers and sea walls," Schumer said.
Lawmakers repeatedly cited this "new normal:" Massive storms, causing tremendous damage. Democrats say they hope Sandy will finally compel action on climate change legislation.
"The science is clear: Cutting carbon emission over the long term is key to reducing the risks of extreme weather," said Representative Eliot Engel.
Initial estimates of the storm damage for New York and New Jersey total more than $70 billion.
Lawmakers say they expect the supplemental bill from the White House sometime next week.