Maryland communities affected by Super Storm Sandy will receive $8.6 million in federal funding under an emergency spending measure approved by Congress last month.
The money, which is in addition to the roughly $1.5 million in assistance the federal government has provided to individuals affected by flooding on the Eastern Shore, has few strings attached. The state must submit a plan within 90 days to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for how they intend to use it.
State and federal officials in Maryland were outraged by an initial White House decision to deny individual aid to Eastern Shore residents affected by the storm -- a decision that was later reversed.
Lawmakers used different eligibility requirements in the emergency measure than are required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The law said that any state "affected" by Sandy would be eligible for aid. That made Maryland eligible -- along with harder hit New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
"Super Storm Sandy was one of the most destructive storms to ever hit the United States and had a measurable impact on Marylanders, especially on the residents of Somerset County," said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat and the new chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversaw the legislation.
It's not yet clear if any of the money will be spent in Western Maryland, where the storm brought heavy snow. Some residents and elected leaders in the region have argued that they have been overlooked in the focus on the Eastern Shore.
The money will be spent through the federal Community Development Block Grant program, which gives states and communities wide discretion over its use. The law, as passed, did not dictate how much money each state would receive, leaving the decision to the Obama administration.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun