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NYC mayor launches 'rapid repairs' program

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Joe Lhota, chairman &

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Joe Lhota, chairman & CEO, MTA, talk before a press conference to update residents about superstorm Sandy recovery. (Nov. 4, 2010) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

In an effort to make more city homes habitable with heat and power, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a "rapid repairs" program in which homeowners could get contractors to do work on electricity and plumbing repairs at no cost to them.

Using money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, contractors will be given responsibility for certain geographical areas of the city and hire subcontractors to do the work, said Bloomberg.

First priority will be given to homes which have "green" status, meaning they are habitable and can easily be fixed up. But homeowners whose properties have been given "yellow" and "red" codes will be able to register with FEMA to get a necessary identification number so they can get into the program, said Bloomberg at a City Hall briefing.

"The best temporary housing is permanent housing," he said.

The mayor said the city still had 90,000 customers without power -- 50,000 with Con Ed and about 40,000 in areas of the Rockaways covered by the Long Island Power Authority. Some 30,000 of the Con Ed customers actually have power on their block but can't hook up because of problems inside their building electrical equipment, according to Bloomberg.

He didn't mention the gas rationing system that went into affect at 6 a.m. Friday.

Drivers with license plates ending in an odd number can buy gas on odd days, while drivers with plates ending in an even number can only buy on even days. License plates without a number, such as most vanity plates, are considered odd plates.

Motorists flew in and out of gas lines Friday along 10th and 11th Avenue in Manhattan with drivers waiting for as little as 10 minutes at stations that had gas. Several gas stations, however, were closed because there were no gas deliveries.

Atul Puri, 38, owner of at Lukoil gas station at West 24th Street and 10th Avenue, said his store missed only "a few" deliveries.

"I think by the next two or three days we'll be back to normal," he said, adding the rationing system may no longer be useful after deliveries resume normal schedule.

Mike Levine of Brooklyn, who works for a bedbug exterminating company, was scoping out open gas stations on Friday in Manhattan.

"I do a lot of driving and I have to keep my tank full to get to my customers. Manhattan is great. People in Brooklyn and Queens are still waiting an hour to get gas," he said.

With Maria Alvarez

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