Sandy Aid, Beach Work to Continue in Federal Shutdown
Officials expect major federally funded Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts will continue even if the federal government shuts down Tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs says states would continue to have access to the billions of dollars in grants already obligated for various relief programs, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says beach rebuilding efforts can continue.
Ed Voigt, a spokesman for the Corps' Philadelphia office, said Monday that dredging and dune rebuilding projects are already funded and the contractors will keep working.
Voigt said the federal employees who oversee the contracts are considered essential and won't be told to stay home if the government closes amid a dispute over funding for President Barack Obama's health insurance overhaul.
"The work that's going on is with obligated funds, money that's already been spent," Voigt said. "The contractors are doing what they're being paid for."
Voigt said there is enough funding in place to continue work for months.
The Corps and its contractors are working on fixing beaches damaged by Sandy last year. Voigt said the agency's work on those projects in New Jersey is on target to be completed by late November.
The plan is to build new dunes in many areas starting in 2014.
HUD says more money would not be pumped into the relief funds it controls during a shutdown, but that recipients would continue to be able to access the money already committed.
Those programs include two run by New Jersey officials to help pay homeowners' rebuilding costs that are not covered by insurance.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)