Reid: 'Misspoke' when comparing Sandy, Katrina
January 7th, 2013
04:29 PM ET
10 years ago

Reid: 'Misspoke' when comparing Sandy, Katrina

(CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid acknowledged Monday he "simply misspoke" when comparing the devastation left behind Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm which pounded the Gulf Coast, and Superstorm Sandy.

"In my recent comments criticizing House Republicans for threatening to betray Congress' tradition of providing aid to disaster victims in a timely fashion regardless of region, I simply misspoke," he said in a statement.

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On Friday - the first full day of the new Congress - Reid said on the Senate floor that "it's too bad that it's taking so long" to approve an aid package for the East Coast states impacted by the storm.

"When we had that devastating Katrina, we were there within days taking care of Mississippi, Alabama, and especially Louisiana. Within days," Reid said. "We are now past two months with the people of New York. And the people of New Orleans and that area - they were hurt, but nothing in comparison to what has happened to the people of New England."

Katrina was responsible for 1,833 deaths and Sandy claimed at least 113 lives in the U.S.

The Senate had approved a $60.4 billion relief packagefor Sandy victims a week earlier, but because House Speaker John Boehner did not call for a vote on the measure in the House, the legislative process had to start over in the new Congress, which took office Thursday. Members from the affected states said they had been promised a vote, but it was ultimately scrapped as Congress wrangled over the fiscal cliff.

The measure which passed the new Congress and which Obama signed into law amounted to $9.7 billion in aid, primarily to fund the federal government's flood insurance program.

Congress will consider a larger $51 billion package later this month, but some members are concerned it contains unnecessary, "pork" spending.

Both storms were expensive, and at the time Katrina was said to be the "costliest hurricane in U.S. history." The Federal Emergency Management Agency put the bill for Katrina at $180 billion.

The federal flood insurance program paid out $16.1 billion in claims.

Repair estimates from the governors of New York and New Jersey, the two states hit hardest by Sandy, are nearly $80 billion, well above some experts' early estimates of $30 to $50 billion.

Reid pointed to displacement figures as evidence of Sandy's wrath, referring to the states as part of New England.

"Almost a million people lost their homes," he said. "That's homes not people in those homes. So I think it's just really unfortunate that we don't have the relief for New Jersey and the rest of New England already. "

The remainder of Reid's statement on Monday, which he did not describe as an apology, touted his own efforts on storm relief: "I am proud to have been an advocate for disaster victims in the face of Republican foot-dragging, from Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Sandy, from fires in the west to tornadoes in the Midwest. I have worked hard with Senator [Mary] Landrieu [D-Louisiana] to ensure that the people of the Gulf Coast have the resources they need to fully recover, and I will continue to advocate on their behalf until the region is fully recovered."

- CNN Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report

Filed under: Harry Reid • New Jersey • New York
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Luke Brown

    Terrible journalism. This is a picture of Senator Reid in the House of Representatives. It has to be at least a year or two old.

    January 7, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  2. Larry in Houston

    here's the truth – in my opinion, I'm not sure he really mis-spoke, or not . But if you really get down to the real stuff – and take a good hard look at those panoramic photos of Katrina AND Sandy they showed on T.V. – Take a look at those houses in those places they call "wards" & take a good hard look at the houses in N.Y. or N.J. especially Staten Island, They were Retirement Homes ! Those places were 100 K Homes or More ! Those people put their Whole retirement and have put money in those places for Years ! NOW, let's go to those "Wards" (esp 9th ) they are 1 or 2 bedroom shanty's On Blocks ! and Not Brick ( like most of the ones on Staten Island) In New Orleans , They are mostly FRAME houses, and 1 bath, on Blocks !! So the real answer is : N.Y. / N.J. & Staten Island Lost Way More than N.O. did.

    January 7, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  3. Ed1

    Another free pass for a jerk is a Republican said this the main stream and liberal media and Democrats would want that person to resign.

    Reid is such an Obama and Biden when it comes to opening his mouth.

    January 7, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
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