The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, the group charged with leading the federal government's response to last year's storm, is preparing to issue a major report to President Barack Obama next month, that will detail how billions of dollars in federal aid should be spent to rebuild affected areas and prepare for future storms. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.
Inside an ordinary Washington D.C. office building is the nerve center for the Obama administration's response to Hurricane Sandy.
Here, the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force coordinates the federal government's efforts to rebuild communities devastated by last year's storm.
"Our goal is not to be another bureaucracy that adds to the complication of delivering recovery, but rather we really want to seek a way to serve every person in the region as effectively as possible," says Executive Director of the task force Laurel Blatchford.
Blatchford, who once worked for the Bloomberg administration, runs the day-to-day operations of the group.
The task force was created by President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the hurricane, with a short-term mission to think long-term.
To that end, the group is working on a mega-report detailing how federal money should be spent to prepare the Northeast for a future of powerful storms.
"Don't just build it back the same way," says Blatchford. "Build it back better."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, working independently of the task force, has proposed a number of projects that also aim to do this.
"Part of what he's been able to do is put out a lot of really important ideas to start a longer-term conversation," says Blatchford. "These investments are going to take some time to really both sort through, but then also ensure that they get made."
The task force is working with a strict budget in mind.
Earlier this year, Congress allocated about $50 billion to rebuild the Northeast. About $40 billion is left to spend, and given the partisan bickering that took place to get that money, the task force is not expecting a cent more.
Despite the financial realities, however, lawmakers in the hardest hit areas think the government's response has been effective.
"We are almost a year down the road," says Queens Rep. Gregory Meeks. "It's slow, but it's better than what it had been as far as government is concerned."
The report is due to the president early next month, and then the group will quietly disappear, leaving behind a blueprint that will likely last well into the future.