Nassau County executive candidate Thomas Suozzi charged Thursday that nearly a year after superstorm Sandy, GOP Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has not developed a comprehensive strategy to help residents who have yet to return to their homes.
At a news conference in Seaford, Suozzi stood with his arm around Erica Scheier, whose three-story houseboat remains submerged in Island Channel.
Suozzi, who served two terms as county executive before losing to Mangano in 2009, said the county had failed to marshal the resources to help Scheier and other Sandy victims.
"Every house that's damaged, every single person still out of their house, represents a crisis in that person's life," Suozzi said. "People are still suffering one year later."
Suozzi criticized Mangano for not creating a centralized database of all Nassau residents still out of their homes. He said Nassau, unlike New York City, has failed to come up with a blueprint for how to protect its infrastructure from future storms.
Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin declined to address the charges, but said that in 2006, Suozzi's administration got a grade of "F" for emergency preparedness from the GOP-controlled State Senate Homeland Security Committee. "Suozzi allowed infrastructure to crumble, sewer plants to pollute the environment and doesn't even realize the county is already implementing its recovery plans," Nevin said.
Scheier said that last year, Mangano and aides visited her at the houseboat and vowed to help her remove it from the water and retrieve her belongings. She said Mangano "never followed through and I have been left on my own."
Scheier's home was featured on the front page of the website for the Nassau Recovery Fund, a nonprofit Mangano formed to help Sandy victims.
Scheier owes $100,000 on the boat, which is not inhabitable, and is not getting help from her insurance company. She recently received two summonses from the Town of Hempstead for failing to remove the boat. Hempstead's bay constable has offered to remove the home for $5,800, but Scheier said she cannot afford the cost.
Thursday night, Suozzi answered questions about diversity and social services at a candidates forum in Hempstead. Mangano, citing scheduling conflicts, didn't attend the forum, which drew a crowd of about 350. "My opponent has disrespected you by not showing up," Suozzi told the crowd of largely black, Latino and South Asian voters.
Nevin said when Suozzi was in office he "disrespected all residents when he gave himself a $65,000 raise after having raised property taxes by 23 percent. Only an egomaniac like Tom would do such a thing."
With Laura Figueroa