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Rockaways Residents Say Rapid Repairs Not Living Up To Its Name

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Residents of the Rockaways devastated by Hurricane Sandy say the city has not followed through quickly enough with its Rapid Repairs program. In many cases, work has not even begun, because there aren't enough skilled electricians to meet demand. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Pauline Anderson Brown has owned her home for 15 years, but her bottom two floors were completely washed away during Hurricane Sandy. She has applied for help through the city's much-touted Rapid Repairs program, but so far, only remedial work has been done, nearly two months after the storm.

"From what I understand from them, they don't have enough electrical personnel to do the jobs that they've been assigned to do," she said. "So that is why, I think, everything is taking so long."

In a statement, the Bloomberg Administration acknowledged the shortage, saying, "We have made great efforts to bring on as many electricians as possible...We are close to finalizing negotiations with our general contractors."

The city is currently in negotiations with six general contracting firms, who will then hire subcontractors, but both sides are still wrangling over the details. As a result, residents like Anderson Brown must wait.

"I do believe, to some extent, that the city is lagging behind with the expectations that we had," Anderson Brown said. "There is no way that I would have thought that we would still be at this juncture."

On Friday, a coalition of clergy and residents of the Rockaways gathered on the steps of City Hall to plead their case. Restoring electricity is the first step in the repair process, and they say Rapid Repairs hasn't lived up to its name.

"If this were the Upper East Side or other parts of the city, would such suffering be permitted to continue? We believe the answer to be no," said Father Jeffrey Dillon of Christ King Church.

More than 14,000 homeowners registered for Rapid Repairs. 3,600 of those have either started repairs or been completed.

The Bloomberg administration pointed out that no one is absolutely destitute. In other words, they have available housing, hotel rooms and the like, for those still in the cold. But residents said that's not really the point. They can't begin the process of making repairs and getting back into their homes until the city fulfills what it promised.

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