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Rep. Meeks Warns Federal Sequestration Could Cut Much-Needed Sandy Aid

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Every FEMA dollar counts with many residents still trying to rebuild their homes and businesses after Hurricane Sandy, but Rep. Gregory Meeks warned his Queens district Monday that federal spending cuts could have great effects on the recovery effort. NY1's Tamani Wooley filed the following report.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks stood before community leaders in the St. Albans section of Queens on Monday to explain how the federal sequestration spending cuts could cripple the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort at home.

"When you talk about sequestering even some of the emergency fund money, that is going to be absolutely devastating because we need every dime that we can get," Meeks said.

The congressman represents the 5th District, which includes all of the storm-battered Rockaways peninsula.

Joseph McKellar, the executive director of the nonprofit Faith In New York, said the area needs more help to improve conditions for families almost five months after the storm.

"There are still families even today living without heat, hot water, electricity," McKellar said. "With less federal resources coming to the city, we're not going to be able to do as much as we wish."

The city has already received $1.8 billion in Sandy aid out of the $54 billion package approved by Congress.

Civic leaders said they fear the sequestration cuts will mostly affect the families and businesses still struggling to rebuild after hurricane Sandy

"Our sense is that in New York City after a crisis, those who are struggling the most before the storm tend to suffer the most afterwards," said McKellar.

"Our concern is that money gets down to our community and that's what we are after," said the Reverend Arthur Davenport, the pastor at First Church of God.

Even without the across-the-board spending cuts, Meeks warned Sandy aid is already stretched thin.

"We knew when we passed that bill that that wasn't enough," Meeks said. "So we know that at some point we're going to have to come back and ask for more."

Still, Meeks said he hopes Congress can reach a deal before the full cuts take effect.

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