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Senate Approves Sandy Aid Bill As FEMA Declares Commitment To Long Beach

LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The sense of urgency about rushing to the aid of Superstorm Sandy victims is being called into question from the streets of Long Island to the halls of Congress.

Just about two months after the storm, some are wondering how deep that commitment is. Friday evening, the Senate approved a $60.4 billion emergency aid package for victims of the hurricane that devastated parts of the Tri-State Area by a 63-32 vote.

The aid bill's chances of passing in the House is uncertain.

Elected officials in New York and New Jersey are urging "the need for swift, bipartisan action on the aid package by the House of Representatives."

"We now urge the House to act swiftly this weekend in recognition of its obligation and responsibility to take action in this instance, just as it always has, for citizens of other states across the country who have endured the devastation of natural disaster," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a joint statement.

On Friday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency provided an update on its response and recovery efforts in the wake of the storm.

WCBS 880's Monica Miller On The Story


"We're still here, and we're going to be here. FEMA's going to be here, as long as it takes," said federal coordinating officer Mike Byrne, speaking in Long Beach.

He said they've provided more $800 million to individual households.

"The Small Business Administration has processed over $320 million in disaster low interest loans," he said.


But some residents said the agency is dragging its feet and the money isn't enough.

"'Go stay in a hotel.' They give me a couple thousand dollars to go stay in a hotel. How long is a couple a thousand dollars going to last you?" a Long Beach resident told WCBS 880 reporter Monica Miller.

Byrne said if FEMA can't help people, it will put people them in touch with some of the 500 agencies working together on relief efforts.

Art Zimmerman and his wife, Renee, enjoyed 62 wonderful years in their Long Beach home, until Sandy savaged just about everything.

"You might call it 'totaled,'" Art Zimmerman told CBS 2'S Steve Langford.

Zimmerman just turned 90, but he's at his home every day trying to salvage whatever he can. Sixty days have passed since the storm hit the area, and Zimmerman said he is not satisfied with the federal response to this catastrophe.

"Well, the payments FEMA's supposed to make are too slow," he said.

Zimmerman's once picture-perfect Long Beach street stands in stark contrast to upbeat pronouncements from FEMA and talk in Washington about cutting way back on federal relief for Sandy victims.

"They have no idea of the scope of the devastation. Cutting it back is a big mistake," Zimmerman said.

How do you feel FEMA has responded to the storm? Sound off below.

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