The following are Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered this afternoon at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC:
“Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo and I met with you and the other members of our state’s Congressional delegation, as well as local leaders from all around New York, all the communities hit very hard by Hurricane Sandy.
“In order to be successful, we all agreed we need to get some support from both Democrats and Republicans. Hurricane recovery is not a partisan issue – and in New York, we have a united front of Democrats and Republicans.
“Now, we have to bring together both sides in Washington – and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
“Today I met with leaders of the House and Senate, including: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Congressman Hal Rogers, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee; and Senators Sue Collins and Lamar Alexander, key Republican appropriators.
“I did have a long talk and lunch with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, the President’s point-person on post-hurricane reconstruction.
“I did thank them all for the help we’ve received from Washington already, including from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. I will say that the support of both of those agencies was exemplary and people kept asking me is there anything we could improve on, and I had to say honestly no that I don’t know of one complaint. These people, both agencies, have worked as hard as anybody could and effectively as anybody could ask for.
“I described the enormous job of recovery that is still ahead of us – a job that we’re undertaking in close proximity with Governor Cuomo, and members of both parties of New York State’s Congressional delegation.
“Our reception was very good. Everyone I met with understands the severity of the damage and the importance of helping.
“Sandy, as many of you know, was the most destructive storm ever to hit the Northeast. Forty-three people in our city lost their lives; tens of thousands of people saw their homes and businesses severely damaged or, in a handful of cases, actually destroyed.
“In response, New York City has already authorized some $1.2 billion in emergency spending. We haven’t waited for Washington to act first. The City Council did approve an increase to our capital budget so we can start right away working on repairing schools and hospitals and public housing units.
“In addition to spending many millions of dollars in hurricane rescue operations, removing storm debris, making emergency infrastructure repairs, and providing disaster assistance to storm victims the City has already approved more than $1 million in emergency loans of up to $25,000 each to more than 52 storm-impacted small businesses. That’s cash already in their hands that’s helping them get back on their feet.
“Moving on to the larger-ticket items, we’ve also started to work on the public schools, getting them back. I’m happy to say as of this morning I think there were only five schools where we still had kids that had to go to other than their own school. That was down from 100 or so when we started out.
“Our two public hospitals that were severely damaged by the storm – Coney Island and Bellevue – hopefully they’ll have their emergency rooms at least back going. We’ve also authorized $500 million for our NYC Rapid Repairs program, which is a partnership with FEMA that is restoring heat and power to homes so families can return to them quickly, and not require taxpayers to cover the costs of temporarily housing.
“For example: Today, we restored power, heat, and hot water to Al Trinidad and his wife. They’re two nice people. They have lived on the same street, Beach 133rd Street in the Rockaways in Queens, for 39 years. Sandy flooded their home and drove them out.
“Al thought he wouldn’t be able to start repairs on his house until next spring. He thought he and his wife would be in temporary housing for a full year.
“Thanks to Rapid Repairs, tonight they’ll sleep in their home, and the Federal government won’t have to pay for their temporary housing. We think that’s spending dollars wisely – and I want to thank FEMA for working with us on this.
“This is a program where we have six contractors, they divide up, so they’re creating teams. We’ve had over 100 teams out working yesterday and today. We hope to have 500 teams by next week out there. A team is a carpenter, a plumber, an electrician – they go in, we’ve preordered large quantities of boilers and heating units and electric panels from around the country. That’s what the big contractors know how to do, and we’re going to get everybody that doesn’t have heat, hot water and power back as quickly as we can.
“We haven’t waited for the help that we hope to get from Washington to come, but given the scale and the impact of the storm, Federal assistance is clearly warranted.
“In our meetings today, we stressed these points: New York State needs a total of about $42 billion to recover from hurricane damage.
“In New York City, the public and private losses caused by Hurricane Sandy not covered by private insurance comes to about $15 billion. We’re asking for 100 percent reimbursement from FEMA, and for a supplemental appropriation without offsets.
“There’s every reason for Congress to provide us with the assistance we need, given New York City’s importance to the health of the entire nation. Because consider this: We’re just 2.6 percent of the nation’s population but we do generate 4.3 percent of America’s gross annual domestic product.
“These numbers clearly show that New York City’s recovery from Sandy is vital to America’s continued economic recovery and growth.
“Everyone I’ve talked with in Washington appreciates that, which makes me confident that our continued partnership will be successful in this recovery.
“We remember that America’s come to New York’s assistance before, and I think New York has an admirable record in trying to come to the assistance of other people around this country.
“We’re all Americans, this is not a partisan thing. We are going to get things done, and the leadership that really is required of the people on either side of me, and I couldn’t be more confident that they will help us make sure we get everybody back safe and sound in their homes.”