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Sandy rebuilding strategy revealed by Obama administration

Aug. 19, 2013 at 7:46 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- A federal task force Monday outlined its strategy for rebuilding the U.S. East Coast communities ravaged by Hurricane Sandy in late 2012.

The Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, led by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, offered 69 recommendations it said are meant to serve as a model for U.S. cities under the darkening cloud of extreme weather. The plan strategies offered are meant to help homeowners stay and repair their homes, bolster small businesses and revitalize local economies, HUD said in a release.

"I want to thank Secretary Donovan, the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, and the thousands of federal response and recovery personnel who have helped the region recover," President Obama said. "We have cut red tape, piloted cutting edge programs and strengthened our partnership with state and local officials.

"While a great amount of work remains, we will stand with the region for as long as it takes to recover."

HUD said among the recommendations expected to have the biggest impact on federal funding is a process to prioritize all large-scale infrastructure projects, map out how they are inter-related and make sure they are built to withstand future storms with climate change in mind.

The Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank, lauded the task force's report.

The Institution's Bruce Katz and Robert Puentes lauded the task force report's emphasis on infrastructure and designing for an uncertain future, saying it "shows how the federal government can be a reliable, supportive partner."

"The strategy shows an unprecedented commitment to coordination across federal agencies and collaboration between the federal, state and local governments and key local constituencies," they wrote. "Instead of establishing new programs with restrictive statutory provisions, the task force recommends (and has already begun to implement) new locally driven solutions through innovative design competitions and added flexibility for communities to decide how funds can be spent within and across jurisdictions.

The rebuilding strategy represents a critical step forward in how the federal government helps states, regions and localities recover in the aftermath of natural disasters. It also, more broadly, shows a federal commitment to localism and regionalism that has implications for a wide range of domestic policies."

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