NEW DORP BEACH, STATEN ISLAND (PIX11) — Rebuilding is now the goal in many of New York City’s boroughs after Superstorm Sandy, but for many, resources are running out and they’re left wondering what else may be out there.
And where are the billions of dollars of federal aid money promised to them and when is it getting here?
Immediate assistance arrived to Sandy victims from FEMA in the form of rental checks for a couple of months, the options for hotel rooms and then Rapid Repairs from the city, a program which has to date assisted nearly 20,000 homeowners.
“As someone who has been doing this for 20 plus years, I can consider this one of the most successful post disaster housing assitance programs that FEMA has been involved in,” said Brad Gair, director for the city’s Housing Recovery Operations.
While insurance checks have also been cut for some, more help is needed. It is why many Sandy victims feel they’ve been left in a holding pattern to wait for the billions of dollars of federal Sandy disaster relief aid.
“Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast and in the case of these funds there’s a lot of money at stake,” said Gair.
According to the the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations, the federal aid program will start getting rolled out by early May, but there are certain steps that must be completed before residents actually receive any money.
For one, they city must draft an action plan , which should spell out what programs they want, how they will be developed, who is eligible and for what. For example, the city has already stated there is a desire to use federal aid money into the purchase of new generators and emergency lighting for public housing buildings.
There will be an opportunity for public comment before an action plan is resubmitted for final approval from Department of Housing and Urban Development, otherwise known as HUD.
“The foundation of this program is that we want to provide grants to fill the gap between where homeowners are now and the cost to complete,” said Gair.
But truth be told, there is a gap and many have had to compensate for this long wait for federal dollars. In Staten Island, for example, pop up charities and other not for profit organizations have been filling that hole.
Volunteers like, Hannah Scott, have been trying to organize a better way for Sandy victims to find out what resources are available to them by mobilizing at meetings with other groups.
If you’d like to find out more information on how you can help Staten Island Sandy victims, call 1-855-SI-YELLOW or find Boots on the Ground and Sandy Yellow Team on Facebook for updates for future events and needs.