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Congressman Tom MacArthur

Representing the 3rd District of New Jersey

MacArthur Announces Second Piece of Legislation to Help Sandy Victims

May 26, 2015
Press Release

BAYVILLE, NJ – Today, following a roundtable discussion at the home of Tom and Sandy Bellinato, Congressman Tom MacArthur announced that he would be introducing legislation to help survivors ease the financial burden associated with rebuilding their lives. During the roundtable discussion, MacArthur discussed this issue and his proposed solution with Sandy survivors Tom and Sandy Bellinato and Russ and Joanna Oberst,  local elected officials from several towns, the Board of Chosen Freeholders, and State Assembly, along with representatives from the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group. 

"Families like the Obersts and Bellinatos are working to recover from a once-in-a-lifetime storm that battered our region over two years ago," MacArthur said. “In the immediate aftermath of this terrible disaster, many families just like theirs took the help that was offered by the federal government, including loans from the Small Business Administration. Unfortunately, we are hearing more and more cases of families who accepted SBA loans without knowing that it could count against their RREM award, leaving them tens of thousands of dollars short for completion of their construction projects.”

"My bill, the Disaster Survivor Benefit Clarification Act, would amend existing law to ensure that getting a loan from the Small Business Administration doesn't prohibit a family from getting other kinds of financial assistance after a disaster," MacArthur continued. "A loan that has to be repaid with interest should not prevent a family from receiving a grant. This is a serious issue that was brought to my attention by Russ and Joanna Oberst, residents of Toms River who are working to rebuild their home and their lives after the destruction brought forth by Superstorm Sandy.”

“It's critical that we help families like the Obersts and Bellinatos rebuild their homes and get their lives back on track," Sue Marticek, Executive Director of Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group said. "Congressman MacArthur's legislation is going to make a huge difference in the lives of so many residents who are ready to get back in their homes."

"Congressman MacArthur heard our story and came up with a common-sense solution that would help so many families like us actually get back in our homes. We emphatically encourage Congress to act swiftly on this bill to remove an obstacle so many disaster survivors will face. We are thankful for Congressman MacArthur’s attention to this issue and the fact that he listened to us when we went to his office looking for help,” said Russ and Joanna Oberst, Toms River residents rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy.

“This is common-sense legislation that would be retroactive to January 1, 2012, to assist those families rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy," MacArthur added. "I look forward to working with Members of both Parties to see this legislation enacted into law."

The Disaster Survivor Benefit Clarification Act of 2015 amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, and exempts loans provided by the Small Business Administration from the prohibition against receiving duplicative financial assistance in the case of a disaster.

This is Congressman MacArthur’s second piece of legislation aimed at helping recovery from Superstorm Sandy. The first, the bipartisan Disaster Assistance Fairness and Accountability Act, included a provision to introduce a new 3 year statute of limitations on recoupments of disaster assistance. While MacArthur's bill is still being considered by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Committee elected to include the statute of limitations provision in their annual bill to reauthorize FEMA. This bill, H.R. 1471, passed out of the Committee on April 15 and will now move to the full House of Representatives for consideration.