Congress Asked To Approve Supplemental Appropriation Of $400 Million For National Parks To Recover From Sandy

Morristown National Historical Park (top), the support dock at Liberty Island that's home to Statue of Liberty National Monument, and NPS facilities at Ellis Island National Monument all suffered damage from "superstorm" Sandy. NPS photos.

Congress has been asked to provide nearly $400 million to help National Park System units recover from damages inflicted by "superstorm" Sandy earlier this fall.

Under the proposal working its way through the Senate, $348 million was requested by the Interior Department to cover "immediate reconstruction and recovery needs" for parks ranging from Gateway National Recreation Area and Ellis Island National Monument to Morristown National Historical Park.

Additionally, $50 million was requested for the National Park Service's Historic Preservation Fund to pay for restoration and rehabilitation of historic properties damaged by the storm.

Beyond that amount, the Interior Department has requested another $150 million "for restoration, recovery, and mitigation priorities to protect against future storms and natural disasters."

National Park Service personnel in the agency's Washington headquarters were working Tuesday to produce a list of storm-related repairs.

National Parks Conservation Association officials, meanwhile, noted that substantial damage was incurred at the Statue of Liberty, "where mechanical systems were flooded and destroyed. Sandy Hook in Gateway ... was inundated, and Fire Island (National Seashore) ... experienced severe erosion all along its length and two overwashes. Ellis Island, Governor's Island, Castle Clinton, Paterson Falls, and other sites in the region experienced flooding, significant damage to mechanical systems, the destruction of employee facilities, and nearly irreparable landscape damage."

Comments

While I sympathize with the Park Services plight, it is hard to be supportive of legislation named Sandy Relief that includes this nonsense:

http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/bad-dem-senator-pleased-he-jammed-200-million-in-pork-spending-in-hurricane-sandy-relief-bill/question-3398919/

And yes they are throwing in pork to lure Republican votes as well. Its a snapshot of what is wrong with our legislative process. We need single subject requirements on our legislation.

For what it's worth, we have been pushing the National Park Service for a detailed breakdown of how the $400 million they are requesting is to be spent.

EC -

You are right on target with your comment: "Its a snapshot of what is wrong with our legislative process. We need single subject requirements on our legislation."

Bills such as this one for disaster relief can become a magnet for pork. The "fat" is bad enough, and even worse when it's unrelated to the original purpose of the bill.

It might be necessary to prune the add-on's, but I'd hate to see the basic necessary appropriation disrailed. I have no sympathy for congresscritters who act like remoras, but if you've been following the overwhelming effort put forth in the ongoing posts in the NPS Morning Report, it is obvious that a significant additional funding is needed. This isn't due to mismanagement; it's due to a hurricane.


This isn't due to mismanagement; it's due to a hurricane.


Wouldn't proper management have included insurance and reserves?

Rick B -

Yes, I agree - the basic bill has merit; my objection and comment about "pork magnets" refers to other items that have no connection to the original purpose being tacked on this bill.

About EC's comment: "Wouldn't proper management have included insurance and reserves?"

An interesting question. As to insurance, that topic comes up from time to time, but my understanding is that the federal government has never insured its properties or activities. I suspect that policy is based on the assumption that the insurance premiums for so many facilities and activities would be more costly in the long run that paying for repairs. Is that assumption correct if the country has very many big disasters on the order of Sandy? I won't try to do that math :-)

As to "reserves" - that would require a change in the way Congress allocates agency funds. My understanding is that in most cases, agencies are not allowed to carry over funds from year to year, and reserves adequate to cover damage from major events such as Sandy would have to be substantial. I'd suggest that kind of money isn't available for reallocation in the existing NPS budget.


I suspect that policy is based on the assumption that the insurance premiums for so many facilities and activities would be more costly in the long run that paying for repairs.


That could very well be the case. In fact if by definition if you have so many facilities and activities it will be the case - which means you should be self insured - i.e carry the reserves for such contigencies. If any private concern that couldn't depend on the public teet ran their business this way, they would be out of business. That's mismanagement.