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By Emily Greenhalgh
PBN Web Editor
PROVIDENCE – Both the state and federal government, as well as nonprofit relief agencies, financial institutions and local businesses are working to help those still affected by Hurricane Sandy.
As of 1 p.m. on Friday, 6,053 of the roughly 122,000 Rhode Islanders affected by Sandy were still without power. National Grid said it is working to complete restoration on Friday, with possible isolated customers regaining power on Saturday.
Storm surges and heavy winds have hit Rhode Islanders hard, especially in the southern portion of the state. “Normally paved roads are covered with almost a foot of sand. The landscape of popular beaches does not look the same. Pieces of homes have been torn off and strewn about typically quiet neighborhoods,” said a release from the R.I. Emergency Management Agency.
According to the RIEMA release, 10 teams are visiting affected communities on Friday to continue the preliminary disaster assessment process. The teams, comprised of state and federal officials, will describe and document the damage to roads, buildings, beaches and property. The data will be used in the justification for a request of presidential disaster declaration.
“Rhode Island, especially the southern portion of the State, was hit hard by Sandy,” RIEMA Executive Director Theresa C. Murray said in prepared remarks. “Any loss is devastating. We want Rhode Islanders to know that we are working closely with our federal partners to get as much federal assistance for this state as possible.”
There are two types of federal assistance: public assistance, which is generally used to help local governments and nonprofits, and individual assistance, which is generally used to help homeowners with serious unmet needs. Access to federal funding begins with the state’s request for a Presidential Declaration of Emergency. If approved, the Federal Emergency Management Agency determines the final amount of funds available.
“Our goal is to support as many eligible projects as possible,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer for Rhode Island James N. Russo. “Our focus is to return local governments, nonprofits, and homes to a safe and healthy condition.” Russo added that damages to secondary or vacation homes are not eligible for federal reimbursement.
The Joint Information Center was disbanded on Thursday, RIEMA spokesperson Annemarie Beardsworth announced. All storm-related information should be directed to RIEMA.