The bill passed today was not "aid" in the sense that Republicans seem to think about aid. The money approved in this legislation (9.7 billion dollars) is not a handout for nebulous "others" who should be grateful that elected officials deigned to share anything. No, what Congress did today was release some funds in order to pay out legitimate insurance claims on policies that people BOUGHT and PAID FOR... in many instances because they were required to in order to purchase their home.
That sounds more like taking care of obligations...which is very different than aid.
From The Washington Post
The bill, which will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay out claims to those who held federal flood insurance, was approved in the House on a 354 to 67 vote. After the House action, the Senate also adopted the bill in a quick unanimous voice vote, sending it to President Obama.(emphasis mine)
There is no general assistance for storm-ravaged areas in this bill-- merely enough money to START paying out insurance claims. So claims from Republican representatives that there is no obligation to pass Sandy legislation and that these areas need to figure this out for themselves obviously don't know much about how the National Flood Insurance Program works. I imagine that many people don't. I would just hope that people charged with funding the program amidst a natural disaster would do a little research about what they are funding or refusing to fund.
This is the National Flood Insurance Program website. I encourage you to take a look through the information there. Learn what the risk is for flooding where you live-- and where people you love live. Take some time to read about the kinds of coverage offered and how the rates work. Really pay attention to whether your town/city/county participates by checking the community status area. Natural disasters are occurring more frequently now and human development ups the flood risk as we build new buildings and change the natural paths for water flow. The reality is-- we ALL live in a flood prone area. It makes sense to be informed about what that means.
What it means for communities affected by Sandy right now is this--communities who were members of the NFIP have every right to assume that they will receive some attention now. Policy holders have every right to assume that their claims will be taken seriously and that they will be paid out in a timely manner so as not to exacerbate the damage from the storm. These are obligations at this point, NOT assistance. True federal disaster assistance will also need to happen in addition to funding the insurance program, but that's a completely different thing. (That is most frequently in the form of loans to homeowners or businesses that have to be paid back-- which still doesn't sound like a handout to me.)
I just think we need to frame this correctly-- when you pay for insurance, you should have the expectation that you get payout on legitimate claims. That's what this is at the moment- nothing more and nothing less. Here's hoping we get to something more soon.