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Superstorm Sandy Victims: Federal Aid Can’t Come Fast Enough

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Superstorm Sandy Victims

Victims of Superstorm Sandy hope political gridlock does not interfere with a proposed $60 billion in federal aid. (Credit: CBS 2)

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Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Superstorm Sandy victims had their sights Saturday on Washington, D.C., hoping to avoid political gridlock as they work to get the money needed to recover from the storm.

As CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian reported, President Barack Obama is asking for more than $60 billion to be earmarked for the Tri-State Area, but the final decision has to come from Congress. That prospect has storm victims worried.

The figure is less than the $83 billion New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sought Thursday from Obama in extra disaster aid for his state plus New York and Connecticut.

President Obama also signed an executive order Friday establishing a Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.

Web Extra: Read The Executive Order Here

Meanwhile, many areas of New York and New Jersey remain disaster zones, and will take a long time to rebuild. But insurance checks and Federal Emergency Management Agency funds have not covered the full extent of the damage.

Lawmakers said it could cost more than $80 billion to rebuild New York and New Jersey. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo was thoroughly pleased with the offer for $60 billion.

“This request by the president for $60 billion – which obviously still has to go through the House, has to go through the Senate – but it is a great first step, it is a very big deal for New York,” Cuomo said.

But the request could face opposition from lawmakers looking to cut the deficit, and who are already in a battle with the White House over the looming fiscal cliff.

“Everybody will yell and scream it’s not enough, and others will say it’s too much – it’s just wasted, and then, back and forth usual political process and you’ll come to an agreement,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday.

But Sandy victims said it is a start, as thousands remain in devastated areas and remain frustrated by the slow progress. Even those who qualify for FEMA aid said the checks don’t cut it.

“You’re not getting what you should to be getting,” one man said. “It’s a battle.”

“You have to hope that the system doesn’t fail you,” added storm victim Marie Rico.

Rico lost thousands of dollars in belongings, and only received $300 from FEMA. She said she hopes the new package will be appropriated fairly.

“I want to know that it’s going to go to the people who need it the most,” she said.

The package includes $9.7 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program, $750 million for the Small Business Administration and private loans, and $11.7 million to repair transportation infrastructure.

“Build back my neighborhood, please, make it beautiful the way it used to be, or at least make it safe,” a woman said.

For those suffering, relief money cannot come fast enough.

On Friday, Obama also signed an executive order establishing a task force to determine where federal money would go if approved for Sandy relief.

Do you think $60 billion will be enough? Leave your comments below…

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