The first federal hearing on Superstorm Sandy recovery and rebuilding was held this morning in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs heard from three witnesses who provided testimony on how federal officials are supporting and coordinating recovery efforts.

The Princess Cottage Inn (R) stands across the street from a onetime residence in Union Beach (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Committee chairman, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) asked Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy how they are measuring success.

“There’s a set of more obvious measures and then there’s a set of measures that are perhaps less obvious and longer term,” says Donovan. “Clearly, how quickly are homeowners getting back into their homes? How quickly are small businesses getting up and running? More broadly, will the shore be open for business this summer in New Jersey?”

Donovan also thinks it is crucial to learn lessons from Sandy and apply them to the next disaster to strike. He says the will help gauge the overall success of the rebuilding and recovery efforts.

“The last thing I would point goes to the focus on mitigation,” explains Donovan.“In the long run one of the most important measures of the recovery is; do we save money the next time we have a storm?”

The committee also focused on major challenges that lay ahead in the recovery; what federal, state and local officials are doing to ensure that disaster funds are coordinated and well spent; and debris removal efforts, including a discussion of how it is being handled in New Jersey and New York.