Tell your Hurricane Sandy story to Rep. Dan Donovan
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- As the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches, Rep. Daniel Donovan is asking Staten Islanders to tell their stories in the hopes that it will make decision-makers reconsider federal disaster policies.
Donovan (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) is collecting the stories so that he can relay them to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate on Oct. 22 when he testifies before the House subcommittee on which Donovan sits.
"I'd like to share with Administrator Fugate the FEMA experiences you had after Sandy, both good and bad," Donovan wrote on Facebook. "If you'd like to submit your story, please send an e-mail through mywebsite."
One unfair policy that affected people after Sandy was in the federal government giving Small Business Administration loans to people and preventing them from getting grants through the city's Build It Back program.
After Sandy hit, those affected who were eligible could get up to $32,000 from FEMA for damages. After that, they were told to apply for low-interest SBA loans.
But a 2011 rule change meant that for people eligible for SBA loans, they would have that amount deducted from their Build It Back grants.
In the end, people listened to FEMA and got stuck with loans, while others got city grants that they don't need to pay back.
It's a story that Dee Vandenburg, president of Staten Island Taxpayers Association, has heard time and time again.
She witnessed many homeowners being told to apply for SBA loans after Hurricane Sandy, only to see their neighbors getting Build It Back grants later that didn't need to be repaid.
"And today, three years later, with many still not home, the FEMA mandate to file for the loan, is still haunting people," she wrote in an email. "Please have Congressman Donovan let FEMA know just how much damage they have done with this issue."
Staten Islanders wishing to share their Hurricane Sandy stories with Donovan — good or bad — should do so by close of business on Friday.
It's one thing for a congressman to relay the stories from his perspective, said his spokesman Patrick Ryan. But "we think it would be more impactful" to name a real person and tell their story. "It's also a way for us to have our fingers on the pulse of what issues we have three years later."