Mayor announces fastracked funding plan for storm damaged schools, hospitals
A financial boost is coming to help the city from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
City officials announced Monday $500 million will be doled out to schools and city hospitals damaged by the storm.
Although Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the money is merely a portion of the yet to be determined costs the Education Department and the Health and Hospitals Corporation face, it was crucial that they received it immediately.
"These school buildings and public hospitals are resources that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers rely on every day -- and we are not waiting for federal aid to begin the work of repairing and reopening them," he said in a statement.
DOE will receive $200 million while HHC will get the remaining $300 million. The funds will be used for building restorations, new boilers, new electrical systems, roof repairs, flood remediation and other fixes.
Twenty-three school buildings that house 37 schools have been shut since the storm. The storm severely damaged generators, ventilators and other equipment at Bellevue Hospital Center, Coney Island Hospital and the Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility on Roosevelt Island.
The City Council will vote on the funding Tuesday and, if enacted as expected, the money would be put in the 2013 fiscal budget.
With hurricane costs rising every day, City Comptroller John Liu said the city needs as much financial help it can get from the federal government.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, meanwhile, is calling on FEMA to give $30 billion in aid to the state.
In the meantime, electricity, trains and other services continue to make small improvements.
POWERThe number of New Yorkers without power continues to drop, with about 17,000 still in the dark as of last night, but Cuomo said the problem is more complicated than simply turning on the power.
"There are some people who are not going to get their power back because it is not a power issue any longer," he said. "It is a housing issue ... if you don't have your power back, it probably means power can't be restored to your home at this time."
Of those 17,000 New York City customers still without power, about 15,600 live in homes where the internal equipment took heavy damage during Sandy and will have to be inspected and repaired by an electrician before ConEd can restore power.
Cuomo said that customers in homes with equipment damage may be eligible for either short-term or long-term FEMA emergency housing, which will provide funds for customers to stay in a hotel or apartment until home repairs are completed and power is restored.
The vast majority of the subway system is, but certain areas remain out of commission and may stay that way for some time.
The R train between Canal Street and Jay Street/MetroTech remains down, as its tunnel experienced some of the worst flooding and damage in the system. Likewise, the A train -- which on Sunday was extended to Howard Beach -- may not return to the Rockaways for up to six months, as its tracks there were devastated by Sandy.
The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel remains open only to buses during rush hours. The Queens-Midtown Tunnel is open to all traffic except trucks.
New Jersey is set to end its gas-rationing program today, but Bloomberg said yesterday that there's no end in sight for the system in New York.
"For the moment, we're going to leave these in," he said, according to the New York Observer.
"I see no harm in leaving it in for a while. If we could have taken it out, it's not that much of an inconvenience; people have gotten used to it already," Bloomberg said.
Cuomo added that the region's gas troubles are getting better, but the problem will persist for some time.
"Reports are that the lines are abating, and as the anxiety and the panic reduces, the lines will abate," Cuomo said. "But it is getting better."