For the text of Smith’s remarks:
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the rule.
When emergencies strike—large or small—Americans can always be counted on to assist and to support the victims. At our core, we are a nation of good Samaritans.
After Superstorm Sandy came ashore in New Jersey and devastated the region, first responders courageously rescued people trapped in homes and cars often with minimal regard for their own personal welfare, safety and well-being.
Everyone rallied. Around the clock. The Governor, Chris Christie, emergency management personnel, the National Guard, police and fire, elected officials. Monmouth County OEM Director Sheriff Shaun Golden was absolutely tenacious and effective. And our local mayors, they were like NFL quarterbacks—running the plays, making calls—day by day, hour by hour.
Faith based organizations helped feed and clothe and shelter. Private voluntary organizations were on the scene in droves. Our neighbors to the north, west, and south poured into the state to help restore power and remove fallen trees. Words are inadequate to convey my—our—appreciation.
Within weeks, the emergency phase seamlessly matriculated into the recovery phase—the flip side of the same coin.
Now the big question is this: will the Feds have our backs as we strive to recover? It is an absolutely arduous process. I believe that we will. Any delay in appropriating sufficient funds will likely stall a comprehensive and robust recovery.
Sandy was the most destructive storm ever in our region and arguably the second or third most costly in America’s history. The Governor’s office estimated the damage in my state alone to be $36.9 billion.
Homes like this one—22,000 homes like this one—completely and totally destroyed.
Another 324,000 homes damaged. 41,000 people can’t return to those homes—they’re still not fixed.
Businesses also took it on the chin.
19,000 New Jersey businesses suffered damage of a quarter of a million dollars or more. Three quarters of New Jersey businesses were hurt by Sandy. One estimate put the small business loss at $8.3 billion. No wonder 100,000 storm-related unemployment claims have been filed.
The Governor’s office points out that public facilities and infrastructure sustained losses of some $7 billion.
Boardwalks were snapped like toothpicks and beaches have eroded and some radically reconfigured.
Significantly more funds are needed if New Jersey—and our good friends in New York—and other Sandy-impacted areas are to recover.
The Frelinghuysen Amendment is absolutely crucial. We are not crying wolf here, I say to my colleagues. There are huge gaps—people who have filed for insurance claims—and find insurance covered only this much. How do they ever recover?
The same goes for the infrastructure in New Jersey. 860,000 people every single day use New Jersey Transit. That infrastructure has been demolished. Locomotives, cars, tracks, as well as stations.
We need this money, we need it now.