FTA’s Emergency Relief program, established under MAP-21, enables FTA to provide assistance to public transit operators in the aftermath of an emergency or major disaster. The program helps states and public transportation systems pay for protecting, repairing, and/or replacing equipment and facilities that may suffer or have suffered serious damage as a result of an emergency, including natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes. The program can fund capital projects to protect, repair, or replace facilities or equipment that are in danger of suffering serious damage, or have suffered serious damage as a result of an emergency. The program also funds the operating costs of evacuation, rescue operations, temporary public transportation service, and reestablishing, expanding, or relocating service before, during and after an emergency.
Hurricane Sandy was one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes in U.S. history. Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012 and affected 24 states, including the entire Eastern seaboard. Beginning in late October, President Obama issued major disaster declarations for 12 states and the District of Columbia.
Sandy had especially tremendous impact on the New York/ New Jersey region, including bringing the region's transit system to a temporary halt. The region carries the highest volume of transit ridership in the U.S. and Sandy crippled mobility in the region. FTA has been involved in the Hurricane Sandy Recovery effort since the initial days after Superstorm Sandy affected the region, providing both technical support and emergency funding in coordination with federal, state and local agencies.
The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 provided $10.9 billion for FTA’s Emergency Relief Program for recovery and relief efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. After mandatory deductions, including sequestration, approximately $10.4 billion is available to FTA for allocation to states and transit operators affected by Hurricane Sandy. This office within Region II leads FTA’s Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, administering and providing oversight of emergency relief and recovery funding for the affected areas.
Accomplishments and High Priority Projects
Since its inception, HSRO has been instrumental in aiding the restoration of the region’s transit infrastructure. To date, FTA has allocated nearly $10.1 billion, of the nearly $10.5 billion in funds available for FTA’s Emergency Relief Program. Major repair and recovery projects include rebuilding MTA’s South Ferry Terminal and reconstruction of Steinway, Canarsie, Cranberry and Greenpoint tubes.
The FTA has dedicated a portion of the allocation to building resilience into the transit system. One resilience project is the Transit Micro Grid, which will allow NJ Transit and Amtrak systems to function in the event of a power loss caused by a disaster. Additional New York and New Jersey transit-related resilience projects include flood protection measures for stairway openings, ventilation grates and ventilation shafts.