Council passes Treyger bill on Sandy church task force
The City Council has approved legislation proposed by Councilmember Mark Treyger that would provide more assistance to houses of worship and charitable organizations that help victims in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy types of natural disasters.
If the bill becomes law, it could lead to religious institutions receiving reimbursements from the government for helping victims in the wake of Sandy.
The centerpiece of the bill involves the creation of a special task force to review the role that houses of worship and charitable organizations played in the aftermath of Sandy and to examine ways for the government to reimburse these groups for expenses incurred while helping residents recover.
Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) said that while most of the post-Sandy recovery funds have gone to rebuilding homes and businesses, many charitable organizations and houses of worship in the affected areas and did not have access to recovery dollars.
Treyger, chairman of the council’s Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, and held a public hearing on his task force proposal in mid-December.
Under his proposal, the task force would investigate any needs these organizations and houses of worship might have and make recommendations on steps the city can take to assist in their recovery.
The task force would have 11 members, including clergy members, individuals experienced with Sandy relief work and the director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency.
Treyger’s bill also seeks to formalize the role religious and charitable groups would play in the recovery from the next major storm. The task force would submit a report to the City Council within eight months of its formation.
“As we continue the recovery from Sandy, it is imperative that we do not forget about the many charitable organizations and houses of worship that opened their doors to residents in the hours, days and weeks after the storm hit and played a vital role in the recovery,” Treyger said in a statement.
The council also passed a second bill proposed by Treyger that would require that pamphlets and other informational materials distributed by the city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) be tailored to vulnerable communities and would include specific details on local organizations, evacuation zones and other information that residents would need during a storm.
Under Treyger’s bill, the pamphlets would be written specifically for each vulnerable community across the city and would be translated into the 10 most commonly spoken languages in each targeted neighborhood. Currently, OEM’s pamphlets are citywide in nature.
“It is also critical that we learn from this experience and find ways to better connect residents with information and resources that are specific to their community,” Treyger said.
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