UPDATED: Mastic Beach mayor recounts surprise call from NY Rising

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GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino talks with superstorm Sandy victims at the Mastic Beach firehouse on Thursday afternoon, July 31, 2014. Photo Credit: James Carbone

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The mayor of Mastic Beach said he hadn’t heard from anyone from New York Rising since March -- until Thursday, just before GOP candidate for governor Rob Astorino stopped by to talk to homeowners frustrated with the state’s post-Sandy bureaucracy.

Mayor Bill Biondi said the call came from a New York Rising supervisor for the local area, whom he declined to name. She said she had heard Astorino was coming, asked about a pending project and said they’d have a meeting soon, Biondi said.

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Biondi, a Republican, said he invited Astorino, just as he has invited Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other local, state and federal officials.

“To be honest, I’m tired of getting beat up. The residents of Mastic Beach are not getting repairs to get back in their houses,” Biondi said.

A spokeswoman for New York Rising said the program has been responsive to Mastic Beach.

"The governor and New York Rising have responded to Mastic Beach," spokeswoman Barbara Brancaccio said, though she said she had no knowledge of the call that Biondi reported.

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"The New York Rising program is very active in the community and has worked extremely hard to develop projects that reflect the needs of the community," Brancaccio said.

She said $3 million has been allocated to community projects in Mastic Beach.

Biondi said he felt there had been more progress in communities farther west, such as Long Beach and Freeport. “We need help,” he said.

On Wednesday, Cuomo announced in Freeport that New York State will provide up to $300 million in new funding to elevate more than 6,000 Long Island homes, most of which suffered major flood damage during Sandy.

Astorino met Thursday evening with about nine homeowners whose houses were damaged, and who complained of a heavy bureaucracy at New York Rising, where their paperwork has been lost, case managers are regularly changed and answers vary from call to call.

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Jim Griffin, 56, said his first floor was damaged. “It’s frustrating,” he said. “There’s no money for repair.” He said he’s worried all the money is being spent on “overhead and salaries” for contractors working on the project.

Catherine Kobasiuk, 50, of Mastic Beach, said she had 2 feet of water in her house. “Two years later, it’s still a shanty. And we’re not getting any answers since May,” when a new contractor came in, she said.

A straight no would be easier to deal with, Kobasiuk said. “The tease, the tease hurts,” she said.

Astorino said the 45-minute meeting highlighted delays in the program.


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