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Sandy watch: Some still suffering

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 4/17/2013, 10:45 p.m.
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Rep. Gregory Meeks reported to the AmNews last week that 1,000 people in his district, which includes Far Rockaway, Queens, still do not have power as a result of Hurricane Sandy. He, along with other elected officials, are watching where the money goes to help bring the area back to its feet.

According to a survey from the New York Communities for Change (NYCC) in January, nearly two months after Sandy hit, almost 10 percent of Rockaway residents were without electricity and one-third didn't have any heat. While those numbers have gone down since then, a small number are still suffering.

"Two months after Sandy, 9 percent of those surveyed still don't have electricity, while an astounding 29 percent are still without heat," NYCC said. "As temperatures continue to drop, the lack of heat and electricity is becoming increasingly dangerous. Families trying to live in a house that is colder inside than outside are putting themselves at risk for hypothermia, especially when low temperatures reach the 20s, as they have in the last days of 2012."

Meeks told the AmNews that along with the issue of mold, 1,000 people still without power is too many, and that he has been working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office to make sure the federal money goes to those who really need it.

"Now we face another battle--over how much aid will be allocated to New York, and how, where and on what New York's portion is spent," he said. "The needs of homeowners and small businesses must be prioritized. Money should be quickly gotten to people who are dedicated to rebuilding. This will help stabilize families and communities, revive services, restore employment and create jobs."

In a statement to the AmNews, Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said that the money New York received will make his district better than it was before and also prepare for the next disaster.

"The crucial federal funding that New York City is set to receive will help our communities rebuild stronger and more resiliently by making vital investments in infrastructure, business, public and general housing recovery," he said. "The money allocated for competitive innovative programs will generate smart new ideas that will encourage modern restoration in the city both ecologically and financially."

Because of its handling of Hurricane Sandy, control over the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), which provides electricity to the Rockaways, was handed over to National Grid. LIPA and National Grid worked together to restore power while safety remained a big concern for the Rockaway Peninsula. The companies said many homes and businesses were flooded and severely damaged. Water intrusion into the electric panels, wiring and appliances of homes and businesses made conditions unsafe when re-energizing power to some areas.

"LIPA and National Grid are committed to restoring power to the Rockaway Peninsula and will continue to work in partnership with the many other agencies engaged in efforts in these communities," the companies said in a statement.