Tell Congress: Fund Hurricane Sandy Relief!
Just before Halloween last October, Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the Northeast, destroying communities and hurting families, homes, and businesses. Not only was the human toll devastating, but Sandy also caused unprecedented damage to national parks, sparking one of the costliest rebuilding efforts in U.S. history.
National parks that sustained extensive damage include the Statue of Liberty, where mechanical systems were flooded and destroyed; Sandy Hook in Gateway National Park, which was inundated with floodwaters and debris; and Fire Island National Seashore, which experienced severe erosion along its length. Ellis Island, Governor’s Island, Castle Clinton, Paterson Falls, and other sites in the region experienced flooding, significant damage to mechanical systems and employee facilities, and devastating landscape damage.
NPCA urges the new 113th Congress to immediately resume action on a storm relief funding bill to help struggling communities and national parks throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Provisions in the Senate-passed bill that need to be included in new legislation include:
- Critical disaster relief for the National Park Service’s construction budget to keep America’s national parks open for business.
- Aid for the Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund,to repair historic structures.
- Money for the Department of the Interior’s operations to assist local, state, and tribal governments in protecting and restoring habitat, water quality, and access to the New York Harbor. This provision would help parks across different jurisdictions replace damaged infrastructure in a more sustainable way that will reduce flooding and storm damage in the future.
- Authorization for an interagency task force to coordinate the rebuilding process in the New York/New Jersey Harbor.
- Funding to restore urban ecosystems that will protect waterfront communities and our national parks from future storms, similar to a process authorized after Hurricane Katrina. The process would support ecosystem restoration plans along the New York/New Jersey waterfront to help protect communities from future disasters. Healthy wetlands and natural buffer zones in coastal areas can absorb storm surges and lessen the damage from storms like Hurricane Sandy.
- Funding to expedite continuing authorities program (CAP) projects being undertaken by the Army Corps. This funding will increase the long-term sustainability of coastal ecosystems, communities, and regional parks and reduce potential dangers associated with large-scale flood and storm events. For example, the New York District Army Corps is rebuilding tidal wetlands in Jamaica Bay, a park unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. In addition to providing important habitat for plant and animal species, Jamaica Bay’s tidal wetlands naturally decrease the velocity of flood waters, absorb them, and physically buffer their impact on nearly 5 million residents in Brooklyn and Queens alone.
- Funding for the Army Corps to immediately start construction of the Fire Island to Montauk Reformulation project, an effort to rebuild the protective dunes of Fire Island National Seashore that protect millions of residents and commercial enterprises on Long Island’s south shore.
Contact your member of Congress and tell them to support the Frelinghuysen (pronounced Free-ling-HI-zen) amendment, which provides full and fair Superstorm Sandy relief. Importantly, it includes $398 million for rebuilding our national parks, $360 million to better rebuild coastal habitat and infrastructure in national parks and wildlife refuges to better withstand storms and reduce future storm damage, and authorization of an interagency planning process to prevent future flood and storm damage to the region.