By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

January 8, 2013

JERSEY CITY, NJ – Filipina small business owner Mimi Paloma-Escudero is praying that Congress passes the remaining $51 Billion aid package to help Sandy victims.

She hopes to rebuild her business destroyed by the superstorm.

Escudero’s restaurant and cafe businesses were heavily damaged when the storm surge flooded Jersey City and Hoboken in New Jersey more than 2 months ago.

The cafe survived and has reopened since, but her restaurant was totally destroyed. She lost everything.

“The damage was significant enough that the furnaces for all the three levels of the building needed to be replaced and both properties have flood insurance, so we’ve been paying this flood insurance all these time,” Escudero said. “May coverage kami diyan pero yung contents ng building namin, not covered.”

The cost of damages is estimated to be at least $70,000. Escudero said the Federal Flood Insurance has yet to pay her claims.

“Ang problema, I’ve been promised na, they even said that they will approve a cash advance,“ Escudero said, “They said, we’ll advance you $15,000. This was promised to me by the middle to the third week of December, up to now kahit isang piso walang nabalik, walang bayad.”

The $9.7 billion measure passed by Congress last Friday will be used to fund and replenish the National Flood Insurance Program to help pay flood insurance claims to 115,000 people and businesses affected by Superstorm Sandy.

But the National Flood Insurance is going broke and that initial small down payment of $9.7 Billion won’t be enough to pay for all claims.

House speaker John Boehner is expected to put the remaining $51 billion aid package up for vote in Congress next week. Approval would bring the total of aid to more than $60 billion that President Obama requested.

“Everybody that has been affected is really suffering, they should forget about kung sino ang Republican, kung sino ang Democrat, they should do what is right,” said Escudero. “As continuing tax payers, we need some of our money back, to help us get back on our feet, this is not a handout, this is not a freebee, we paid into this.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warned that if Congress does not provide additional borrowing authority, the federal flood insurance program would run out of money soon.

The FEMA-run program was created in 1986 because many private insurers would not cover flood damages.

Contact Don Tagala at for more information.

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