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FEMA Says It Won't Pay Full Cost Of Rapid Repairs Program

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TWC News: FEMA Says It Won't Pay Full Cost Of Rapid Repairs Program
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While Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said FEMA will cover the full cost of his Rapid Repairs program, the federal government says otherwise. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Homeowners like Arlene Phipps also thought FEMA would pay for all of the work done through the program.

"I have been told across the board by Rapid Repair that FEMA is taking care of this and that this is of no cost to us," Phipps said.

But FEMA said the city could be stuck with a quarter of the tab.

"We'll pay our share," said FEMA representative Michael Byrne. "Right now that cost share is 75-25 -- 75 percent FEMA, 25 percent the city."

It's unclear how much these repairs could end up costing the city.

City Hall said it is not keeping track of the program's costs.

The program farms out repair work in homes without heat or hot water to six large city contractors in order to get people like Phipps back home instead of in shelters or trailers.

"We are a large contractor so we are the guys that can get it done quick," said Rapid Repair contractor Tony Petito. "We got a lot of experienced guys and this is what they do for a living."

Homeowners get the repairs for free.

"I think it's a pretty good deal," said Joan Currie, whose home was damaged by Sandy. "You know, just to get you started again."

Some contractors we spoke, to who were not authorized to speak on camera, said they weren't quite sure how they were going to get paid.

"They got us all working, getting these people's heat back," one contractor said. "I don't know who's paying for it."

Regardless of who signs the checks, contractors said there's been no shortage of business.

Some of the projects are more complicated than others. The Phipps' have been trying to get their boiler to work for four days.

"This storm has taught me that you better know what you are doing," Phipps said. "You have to survive."

For people like Phipps, it doesn't matter who is paying as long as the heat comes back on.

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