One year ago today, Sandy made landfall along the mid-Atlantic coast. The storm devastated communities, families, and businesses. While it’s natural to reflect on the tremendous damage the storm wrought, today also presents us with an opportunity to look toward the future.
Before, during and immediately after the storm, the Department of Commerce provided information and data that helped save lives and property and get commerce flowing again. But our work hasn’t stopped and we continue to help in rebuilding efforts.
From spot-on forecasts delivered four days before the storm’s landfall to economic assistance to working to open ports, Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and Economic Development Administration (EDA) have been standing with our federal agency partners to assist affected communities. In the last year, the Obama administration has provided direct assistance to more than 230,000 people and small businesses and has announced more than $39.7 billion in funding for recipients.
EDA serves as the administration’s lead for economic recovery as part of the National Disaster Recovery Framework, which coordinates key areas of assistance in the wake of natural disasters. Since Sandy struck, EDA has provided targeted technical assistance through peer-to-peer forums to assist the New Jersey tourism industry, government procurement roundtables, “Access to Capital Meetings” to inform business resources of traditional and non-traditional financing mechanisms, and providing risk management resources to small businesses in the region. Ultimately, these initiatives have helped provide small businesses, local leaders, and economic development practitioners learn best practices and empowered them to undertake robust recovery efforts.
Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration also recently released a reporton Sandy’s economic impact in New Jersey and New York’s tourism and construction industries, which includes estimated job creation from Sandy rebuilding efforts. And in August, the Sandy Task Force unveiled its Rebuilding Strategy Report, which lays out guidelines for investment of the federal funds made available for recovery, including: cutting red tape, aligning funding with local rebuilding visions, and ensuring the region is rebuilt in a way that makes it more resilient.
With forty percent of the U.S. population living along our coasts, understanding and communicating information effectively is a critical part of being prepared for natural disasters. That is why NOAA’s National Weather Service is making investments in supercomputing technology to ensure its forecasts are delivered even faster and more accurately. In addition, NOAA’s National Ocean Service and other programs are looking at how communities recover and rebuild so that over the long-term lives and property are protected in a more resilient way.
The Department of Commerce stands ready to continue doing all it can to help communities rebuild and recover from Sandy.