Businesses ready to rebuild but forced to wait on Congress

Last October, Hurricane Sandy blew through the east coast and took a severe toll on New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Many businesses including food service providers, warehouses, and medical facilities lost inventory and suffered extensive structural damage. This left many residents without power, homes, and jobs. Recovery has been slow and costly. Businesses affected by the storm are a long way from reopening their doors—some might not be able to reopen at all.


Many people across the nation have stepped up and given assistance in the form of monetary aid and manual labor. This has provided a measure of relief, but government assistance is still necessary. President Obama stated that he wanted Congress to move quickly on a relief bill that would accelerate the relief efforts. As a result, the Senate approved a $60 billion measure to help with the recovery efforts of the states that were devastated by the storm. When the bill reached the House to be voted on by lawmakers, House Speaker, John Boehner decided not to vote on the bill until the new congress met early in 2013. Amid major criticism from local and national government officials, Boehner agreed to vote on a $9 million down-payment bill as early as Friday, January 4, 2013 followed by another vote on the balance of $51 billion by January 15.


The Congressional Budget office anticipates that the Senate bill will be allocated in separate phases over the course of 3 years. They estimate to be spending around $8.97 billion in 2013, $12.66 billion in 2014, and another $11.59 billion in 2015.


The current aftermath of the disaster still comes with a high price tag. Many people are still out of work and most of the small businesses are still unable to resume their business functions due to structural damage and lost inventory. According to some reports, collectively, businesses in the affected regions are losing around $10 million a day.


While this paints a dismal picture of the economic impact of Hurricane Sandy, the plans for recovery show a much stronger outcome. The recovery efforts will include considerable improvements to the overall infrastructure which will better equip homes and businesses against future storms. The bill provides $17 billion in Community Development Block Grants to help rebuild homes, schools, medical facilities, and other buildings destroyed by the storm. There are also plans to significantly improve the power grid in the region to better prepare the area for outages.


One of the major impacts of the storm is the high level of unemployment that resulted from the loss of businesses. This posed a tough challenge in an already struggling economy. However, it is anticipated that when a bill does pass, the reconstruction efforts will put many people back on the payroll. When the recovery process is up to speed, it is the hope of government officials that not only those individuals who were displaced by the storm will return to work, but many other jobs will be added as well.

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