Congress is sending a $50.5 billion emergency relief measure for Superstorm Sandy victims to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The Senate voted on the measure for the states hit by Superstorm Sandy early Monday evening. It passed by a vote of 62-36.

In a joint statement from Govs. Chris Christie, Andrew Cuomo, and Dannel Malloy, the trio expressed “genuine thanks and gratitude” to the Senate for the vote.

“Despite the difficult path in getting to this moment, the Senate membership clearly recognized early on the urgency and necessity of approving the full aid package and its importance in rebuilding our battered infrastructure and getting our millions of affected residents back on their feet as quickly as possible,” the statement read.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement: “The Federal government will finally provide New York City and our neighbors with the assistance that’s rightfully extended to Americans whose lives have been upended by crises and natural disasters.”

The measure is aimed primarily at helping residents and businesses as well as state and local governments rebuild from the Oct. 29 storm. It passed despite opposition from fiscal conservatives worried about adding to deficits.

Senator Charles Schumer said the money was long overdue and that the bill would provide more than $1 billion for projects to shield New York’s coast in the future.

Schumer earlier explained much of the South Shore was vulnerable to another storm and work would begin quickly once the bill passes.

Projects would fortify roads, rebuild beaches and raise houses.

At least $16 billion will flow to state and local governments through grants from the Housing and Urban Development Department.

Schumer and former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato held a rally in Island Park Monday to encourage the passage of the bill.

“New Yorkers have spent billions of dollars in disaster aid to help other areas. We don’t want the rules changing now that we’ve had a major disaster,” Sen. Schumer said.

“We still have one-third of the homes where people aren’t living here,” D’Amato added.

John Weber, owner of Island Park Laundromat, said he desperately needs the money to reopen his business.

“It’s extremely important. It could be the life or death decision to this community,” Weber said. “We don’t need loans, we need grants.”

Sandy roared up the East Coast on Oct. 29 and was blamed for 140 deaths and billions of dollars in property damage. New York and New Jersey were the hardest hit areas.

Source: CBS 2 NY


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