Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), who represents areas of Ocean and Monmouth counties hard-hit by Superstorm Sandy, yesterday testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee Energy and Water Development on the impact of Superstorm Sandy disaster relief legislation.
The hearing was held by New Jersey Congressman, Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, author of the “Frelinghuysen amendment” which provided the necessary funding to rebuild New Jersey and keep our recovery on track. The legislation “is making—and will continue to make—a real difference in the lives of our constituents and communities throughout the Northeast,” Smith told the Committee members.
The legislation brought the total federal appropriations to help Sandy impacted states to $60.4 billion including assistance to back up the National Flood Insurance Program, programs to help the residents whose homes were destroyed or damaged, and help for communities to make a robust and sustainable recovery.
The hearing focused on the Army Corps of Engineers—who received $5.35 billion from the supplemental appropriation—and their plans for Sandy recovery, including the critical beach replenishment projects along the Jersey Shore that helped mitigate the damage in certain areas.
“Mr. Chairman, yesterday, the Army Corps issued their interim report, as prescribed by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 (PL 113-2)—a bill so critical to the recovery of our state. The Corps’ report listed a number of projects in various stages of construction that will need to be rebuilt to ensure existing projects, though damaged, will be able to provide the same protection in the unfortunate event of a future storm,” said Smith.
“One of these projects, the Sandy Hook to Barnegat Inlet is critical to the coastal communities of Monmouth County. As their report points out ‘[d]egraded coastal features have resulted in increased risks and vulnerability from future storm events.’ I am pleased that the Corp will, hopefully, be able to begin construction as early as this summer to fix this project and therefore mitigate this risk.”
Smith urged the Subcommittee and the Army Corp to look at the risks to coastal lakes when evaluating existing projects. “We have many coastal lakes and beachfronts that are contiguous and contribute to flooding risks, water quality, beach closures and local ecosystems,” said Smith. “I am hopeful that this Subcommittee and the Corps agree that these lakes should be included in any analysis of how best to mitigate flooding and protect our shore line and coastal communities in the future.”
Press Release, March 14, 2013