House Finally Clears $50 Billion Sandy Aid Package

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Members of the House voted overnight to approve $50 billion in emergency relief for the victims of Superstorm Sandy, almost three months after the storm devastated the northeast.

It's a delayed victory for hard-hit parts of New York and New Jersey where residents have been dealing with the aftermath of Sandy since it hit the region Oct. 29. Aid is finally on its way to the victims.

The bill is expected to receive a friendlier reception in the Democratic-controlled Senate than it did in the Republican-controlled House.

Victims say the slow response by lawmakers is unacceptable.

"We don't have the time they seem to have," Seaside Heights, N.J., Mayor Bill Akers said. "I can't wait. I can't wait for them. If I worked like they work, this town wouldn't even open."

"Where is it? Where is it, Congress? Where is the money? Show me the money!" Bridgewater, N.J., resident Jackie Lentzsch asked.

But many Republicans in Congress say the delay was justified. They say the bill the Senate originally passed was loaded with extra spending not relevant to Sandy.

In addition, conservatives argued that disaster aid costs must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere.

"When the Senate sent this bill over to us... they porked it down," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said. "They put things in there that didn't need to be in there."

In the end, supporters of the bill won a hard fought victory Tuesday. When the bill takes effect, it will fund projects that officials say are vital to the recovery of the northeast.

Money will help rebuild mass transit systems, housing, and damaged coastal areas.

How You Can Help:
Give to Operation Blessing Disaster Relief

In the meantime, Operation Blessing has been on the ground in New York and New Jersey since Sandy hit. Volunteers are still helping residents clean up, tear down, rebuild, and salvage memories.

"Before they'd even throw anything out they'd ask me, they'd double ask me...Very professional," one storm victim helped by the volunteers said. "And you know what? The caring and the kindness that they're displaying is unbelievable, wonderful."

"They even told me, 'Oh, thank you for letting me come in your house,'" another victim said. "And I was like, 'Thank you for being here.' The feeling I got, the only thing I could think of, was that it was like it was raining angels."

Operation Blessing said it will continue to meet the needs of the victims of Hurricane Sandy until the job is done.

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Efrem Graham

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.