November 12, 2012
By Neal Tepel and Stephanie West
At a press conference conducted on November 9, 2012, the Mayor spoke about setting up a New NYC Rapid Repairs Program to Quickly and Efficiently Fix Damaged Homes. The Mayor said that mobile medical vans were deployed in the communities Sandy struck hardest, and the city is sending medical assistance teams door-to-door in high rises on the Rockaways and in Coney Island to check on the elderly and homebound. Sanitation crews have collected nearly a of a quarter-million tons of debris – and they’ll keep working 12-hour shifts to finish the job.
Private contractors are now working alongside the sanitation department to remove the debris that Sandy left in its wake cleaned up. According to the Mayor, the city has made great progress in clearing the storm sewer system in those neighborhoods, and in repairing the traffic signals, fire hydrants, and other vital equipment that Sandy damaged or destroyed. The city is also pushing to restore basic services to the public housing where Sandy knocked them out.
The city is now using 600 extra private contractors, to get power restored to public housing buildings – including those in Coney Island, Red Hook, and the Rockaways. All but a handful of public housing buildings that lost power during Sandy will have the lights back on by November 10th. And by the middle of next week, all but a handful should also have heat and hot water. According to the Mayor, the third track concerns New Yorkers who’ve been displaced by Sandy and want to return to their homes. That’s the task that has been assigned to Brad Gair. Brad has been named Director of Housing Recovery Operations.
Con Ed has been hard at work for the last 10 days, and they now estimate that 50,000 of their customers are still without power. At one point it was as high as three-quarters of a million, 750,000 different homes. Con Ed believes based on current data, about 20,000 will be restored soon. The rest of their customers, about 30,000, have power running down their streets, but cannot be connected until repairs to their saltwater-damaged electrical wiring are made. In the Rockaways, you have Long Island Power Authority service and 40,000 customers are powerless.
For a majority of the total of 90,000 customers without power, both LIPA and Con Ed, simply bringing back the power, however, isn’t enough. Because of damage in their homes – to electrical equipment, the gas line, a boiler, and other equipment – they won’t be able to go home – or get back to normal – until repairs are done to get them light and heat, or to fix windows or repair a roof.
The city is launching ‘NYC Rapid Repairs.’ So as many New Yorkers as possible can return to homes as soon as possible. Contractors will be given responsibility for an area hard hit by Sandy. These contractors will be responsible for repairing the homes of anyone who wants to take part in the program. Each contractor will select the sub-contractors – the electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and others – needed to make a home damaged by the hurricane once again safe, sanitary, and functional. Beginning Tuesday November 13, restoration centers will have FEMA ID number and those needing assistance with repairs can sign up for NYC Rapid Repairs. The locations of the restoration centers are on-line at nyc.gov, or by calling 311.
Once signed up, a contractor will come to a home, assess the damage, create a work order, and within a short time the work will be completed. A FEMA ID number is needed to begin the process. New York City Rapid Repairs is an innovative and unprecedented program, and President Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and FEMA Director Craig Fugate deserve a lot of credit for making it happen.
As a homeowner, you can always choose to have repairs made through an insurance company, or by getting a standard FEMA reimbursement. But if a home owner chooses NYC Rapid Repairs, the city will assist in having a contractor complete the work. So if you do have a friend who’s an electrician and wants to do the work, you don’t have to go through this program. “In addition to being easier, NYC Rapid Repairs will save the City, State, and Federal government a lot of money. That’s because contractors will be able to work on multiple buildings at once and not just one house at a time.