Tag Archives: recovery

De Blasio announces Sandy recovery overhaul


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo: Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a major overhaul to speed up Sandy recovery Thursday, along with the release of a detailed report on the city’s response to the storm.

The report includes recommendations that are expected to provide financial relief to businesses and homeowners, and revamp current recovery programs, the mayor said, as well as details on the city’s infrastructure rebuilding and storm mitigation efforts.

“We can’t stand idly by as red tape and bureaucratic bottlenecks prevent far too many New Yorkers from getting the relief they need. That’s why, from day one, we prioritized more efficient recovery,” de Blasio said. “And now, we’ve laid out a blueprint to provide critical financial relief to homeowners and directly engage communities in the rebuilding process—all while continuing our work to ensure a stronger and more resilient New York.”

Part of the engagement process will involve appointing borough directors in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island, who will have the authority to direct city agencies to increase community engagement and coordination, and bringing Build It Back staff directly into affected communities, according to the mayor’s administration.

“These latest announcements from the administration have brought new hope to many of our residents who have been displaced and are fighting to put their lives back together and move forward,” Borough President Melinda Katz said. “My office will continue to focus resources on the issues and challenges still outstanding for these residents, so we may collectively find solutions.”

The report additionally highlights other improvements the mayor announced last month to Build It Back, a federally-funded program to assist those whose homes, offices and other properties were damaged by Sandy.

Comptroller Scott Stringer also just announced the formation of a Sandy oversight unit and an audit of the Build It Back program.

“It is critical to have an accounting of how government has responded to this event, and what we can do to better prepare for the future,” he said.

Stringer also said that he will be holding town hall meetings in affected neighborhoods during the upcoming months to get community input on what his office should be examining as it comes up with an audit plan of issues on the city’s Sandy response.

The meetings will include the following locations in Queens, with future town halls to be announced for June:

April 30, 6-8 p.m., Bay House, 500 Bayside Dr., Breezy Point

May 20, 6-8 p.m., Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 348 Beach 71st St., Arverne

For updates on town halls, click here.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Monday: Rain and snow showers this morning. Then becoming partly cloudy this afternoon. High near 55. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Monday night: Clear skies. Low 34. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Kaleidoscope

“The Kaleidoscope” starts at 8:00 p.m. at The Creek and the Cave at 10-93 Jackson Ave. in Long Island City. The Kaleidoscope is an experiment where friends and strangers get together and perform. Four improvisers create teams with whom they have never performed and will never exist again. Like a kaleidoscope:, every time you look you will see something different. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

New York City Council to hold hearing on Superstorm Sandy recovery

Members of the de Blasio administration and people affected by Superstorm Sandy are expected to speak Monday morning at a City Council oversight hearing. Read more: CBS New York

Report: Unpaid tolls rose on no-cash NYC bridge

The amount of uncollected tolls on a New York bridge skyrocketed after electronic E-ZPass systems replaced all cash toll lanes, according to a published report. Read more: NBC New York

With pre-k fight behind him, de Blasio to shift focus to affordable housing

Now that state lawmakers have closed a budget deal to fund prekindergarten in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio is ready to turn to the next items on his sweeping liberal agenda. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Bratton raps Kelly and Bloomberg on stop and frisk

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton turned on the city’s former leaders Sunday, saying the department had a terrible morale problem when he took over because of the way his predecessor, Ray Kelly, and former Mayor Bloomberg used stop-and-frisk. Read more: New York Post

Obamacare website down as deadline arrives

People trying to apply and enroll for private health insurance through Obamacare before Monday’s midnight deadline are discovering the website is “currently unavailable.” Read more: NBC News

Cuomo vows to continue fight against extreme weather


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

As temperatures plummeted in New York on Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a heated speech outlining plans to build a new weather detection system, seal subways from floods and deputize citizens as emergency responders in the ongoing fight against extreme weather.

“[We are] reimagining New York for a new reality because we are facing a new New York after what we went through,” Cuomo said.

“Extreme weather is the new reality, like it or not.”

The governor was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, who, Cuomo said, represented the federal government’s support in the state’s efforts to recover from the super storm last year.

“None of it would have been possible if we didn’t have the funding from the federal government,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo’s $17 billion plan included a more sophisticated weather detection system, with more stations throughout the state.

He also outlined the first massive reconstruction of the city’s subway system since it was created more than 100 years ago, with better protection of train yards. He said the state was looking into experimental seals to stop water from entering subway openings.

The energy system also showed vulnerability during Sandy, he said, prompting an urgency to raise substations out of flood zones, particularly on Long Island, and for critical underground lines to be strengthened.

Cuomo emphasized restoring coastal protection through natural green infrastructure by “replacing what Mother Nature had there in the first place.”

We need to revisit how we design homes near the coast, and other flood zones, and consider building structures on stilts, the governor said.

Following the fuel crisis during Sandy, backup generators were mandated downstate and New York became the first state to establish a strategic fuel reserve, which is now on Long Island. Both those initiatives will be extended statewide, Cuomo said.

The Governor said he wanted the state’s emergency responders and its citizens to be prepared for the next storm by establishing the first-ever statewide training program for emergency personnel and the country’s first college for emergency preparedness.

The state is also going to create a “Citizen First Responder Corps,” with the goal of training 100,000 New Yorkers for “what to do in case of an emergency,” he said.

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Businesses struggling to rebuild after Sandy


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/PHOTO BY TERENCE CULLEN

Local businesses already struggling in a tough economy are determined to bounce back from Sandy.

Shop owners along Cross Bay Boulevard swept dirt and debris from their stores, pumping water from drenched basements in the days after the storm.

Angelo Gurino, owner of Howard Beach landmark Ragtime, said pre-storm preparation saved his business from significant damage. Sand bags and wood panels kept waves from completely destroying the grocery store.

“We didn’t suffer that much, thank God,” said Gurino.

The store’s basement filled entirely with water, trickling several inches onto the main floor. Gurino said that even though they spent 14 days without electricity, they remained open and tried to help the community as much as possible. Almost $40,000 worth of merchandise spoiled on the shelves.

After the storm, all that was left of Ragtime’s sign were the letters “M” and “E”.

Gurino estimates the repairs will amount to $100,000.

“We need to get those businesses up and running on Cross Bay Boulevard,” said State Senator Joe Addabbo. “They employ many of our local people — they generate revenue for the city and state, and provide the services for the community. It would be in our best interest to get those businesses up and running.”

Jack Friedman, director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said members of the group have been in the areas hardest hit by the storm nearly every day. The lack of electricity has hindered the chamber from conducting through assessments of damage, stranding many businesses in the stage of relief and recovery. Friedman said the next stage is to ensure residents have proper housing and attempt to reopen businesses.

“We don’t want to be a chamber of no commerce,” said Friedman. “We have to keep it as a chamber of commerce down in the Rockaways. This is a vital area to Queens, to New York City, and it could be to the region. This is some of the most valuable beachfront property on the east coast and it’s just been ignored by the city for way too long.”

Harendra Singh, owner of the Water’s Edge Restaurant in Long Island City, said his facility was inundated by nearly six feet of water during Sandy, far more than he predicted.

“I thought maybe three feet or two feet [of water],” said Singh. “We did whatever we could to prepare for everything. We were not expecting this much.”

The restaurant is currently undergoing repairs to fix damaged carpet and flooring, construct a new bar and replace broken equipment, which Singh estimates will cost between $1.5 million and $2 million. To keep business rolling, the restaurant moved all operations to their unscathed second floor. Since the storm, Water’s Edge has hosted two weddings, both of which Singh said went “perfectly.” The restaurateur said he hopes the eatery will be back on its feet by Thanksgiving.

“We are not [only] confident,” said Singh. “We are sure that we’ll be OK.”

- Additional reporting by Terence Cullen