A nonprofit group and its 326 volunteers have teamed up with retail giant Sears to help New Yorkers rebuild their homes destroyed by Sandy -- a multimillion dollar effort announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Tuesday.
"It's personal. New Yorkers needed a friend, and there you were," Cuomo said to Sears chief executive Lou D'Ambrosio and Gary Officer, president and chief executive of Rebuilding Together, a charity that helped rebuild 1,000 homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
At a news conference at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, Officer said the charity has raised $1 million so far to "help identify homes we can target for deep construction and rehabilitation." He said the goal is to identify 100 homes in the next several months.
Bob Ellis, executive director of Rebuilding Together Long Island, said five to 10 homes have been identified in need of critical repair in the Long Beach area. However, rebuilding can't start until debris is removed and the area is cleaned.
Against a backdrop of washers, dryers, power tools, air compressors and other Sears merchandise, D'Ambrosio said the company will slash 30 percent off its appliance retail prices for homeowners impacted by Sandy. "This will help them get back to a normal life," he said, adding that the cost of installation services also will be cut.
"We want to help people get back into their homes," D'Ambrosio said. He said at least $1 million has been moved into the Sears accounts of customers who have suffered from Sandy's destruction. "This is free money that has gone into member accounts," D'Ambrosio said. He said the customers live in Flood Zone A and were identified through their ZIP codes. He also said Red Cross volunteers have been handing out discount coupons for new appliances to flood victims.