WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to discuss the impact Hurricane Sandy had on northern New Jersey, highlighting legislation he is working on to provide tax relief to the victims of the devastating storm. The legislation, modeled after a similar bill passed into law in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, is aimed at providing tax relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy in areas designated as Federal Disaster Areas by the President.
The legislation will compliment the federal government's relief and recovery efforts by providing additional tax relief to businesses, individuals and municipalities affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Rep. Pascrell's Statement for the Record is below:
November 29, 2012
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Hearing on: Sandy and Its Impacts: A Local Perspective.
The Hon. Bill Pascrell, Jr. ∙ Statement for the Record
Chairman Boxer, Ranking Member Inhofe, thank you for inviting me here to discuss the impact that Hurricane Sandy had on my home state of New Jersey. As my colleagues have spoken about, Hurricane Sandy bore down on New Jersey, brining heavy rainfall, and high winds.
In Bergen County, first responders had to evacuate entire towns after the Hackensack River rose over a berm, leaving five feet of water on the streets of Moonachie and Little Ferry. Many towns up and down New Jersey's coast saw a similar or worse fate with flooding from the storm surge. In the end, the storm left 2.4 million households without power, and caused over $30 billion dollars in damage.
Moonachie's city hall, which houses its police department, won't be repaired for months. The Police Department will soon have to be housed in trailers, and reimbursed through federal disaster relief funding. The Mayor of Little Ferry is just one of the many people in that community whose house was decimated by the high water. Many businesses in the town lack flood insurance and will be forced to shutter their doors for good.
The storm surge pushed a wave up Newark Bay, flooding the Passaic Valley treatment plant, crippling its equipment, cutting off its power, and shutting down the system that handles sewage from 1.5 million customers in northern New Jersey. New Jersey Transit, which has a daily ridership near 1 million, experienced flooded tunnels, damaged signal systems, and crippled hubs. PSEG, the state's largest utility, suffered over $100 million in damage to critical infrastructure. And thousands of our state's residents have sustained significant damage to their homes and businesses, and power was out for many for weeks.
State and local finances have been stretched thin since the economic downturn of 2008. Now, this storm will further hurt the ability for these states to finance rebuilding alone, due to depressed tax collection on incomes, properties and businesses. It will be in the hands of the Federal government and bipartisan groups like the one before this Committee today, to step in and help rebuild. And the sheer scale of this disaster demands that we think outside the box.
For example, I have been working with other Members of the House Ways and Means Committee to draft legislation modeled on the tax relief provided after Hurricane Katrina. This legislation includes: allowing individuals to deduct the cost of uninsured losses, allowing businesses to expense the cost of disaster recovery; helping rebuilding damaged low income housing; and, providing help in financing the momentous tax of rebuilding infrastructure destroyed during the storm.
While this is just one example of actions Congress can take, I hope that you see it as example of how to be creative as we keep our focus on helping the victims of this tragic storm.