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City's Rapid Repairs Effort Hits 20,000 Mark

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Five months after Hurricane Sandy tore through the five boroughs, the city says it's finished work on more than 20,000 homes as part of its Rapid Repairs program. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Like just about everyone in Broad Channel, a tiny community that sits essentially on Jamaica Bay, Hurricane Sandy left Bob Eckert's house underwater.

The entire first floor was virtually wiped out, but Eckert never left his house. And within weeks, it was livable, thanks to the city’s Rapid Repairs program.

"They did all the electrical work, the whole downstairs in the house," Eckert said. "And then, I had the plumbers come in the following day, and there was four of them. Two fellas worked on putting the new boiler in. The other two worked on putting the baseboard in."

Robert Keith's home got the same treatment.

"Everybody was working," Keith said. "It was literally, it was like army ants and locusts. They were all over the place."

Keith and Eckert joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg Friday to mark the successful conclusion of the program, which dispatched teams of contractors to restore people's heat, power and hot water, an unprecedented effort.

"We had no experience," Bloomberg said. "There was no role model for us to copy. We had to invent it as we went along."

Bloomberg said the point of the program was to get residents in hard-hit areas like Broad Channel back on their feet right inside their homes, rather than in temporary housing.

At its peak, the program was servicing more than 200 homes a day. To date, work has been completed on more than 20,000.

Altogether, the program will end up costing about $500 million, paid for by FEMA.

As for those with complaints?

"If you have been helped by Rapid Repairs and something’s not working, you've got to call us, and we will send somebody out right away to see whether or not something broke down, wasn't done right the first time, and we'll fix it," Bloomberg said.

City officials also released details Friday on how the city plans to administer $1.77 billion in federal aid. The proposal can be found at nyc.gov.

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