After floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy destroyed heating and electrical systems in tens of thousands of homes, the city launched a new program called Rapid Repairs, designed to dispatch fix-it teams to restore basic necessities, and while by many accounts, the program was a success, some New Yorkers say it left them out in the cold. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
A few weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit New York, NY1 spoke with Steve and Dotsy Kearns. They live on Beach 92nd Street in the Rockaways, and they were among the first wave of New Yorkers to sign up for the city's Rapid Repairs program.
NY1 visited them this week to hear about their experience with the much-touted program. It was not a positive one.
"They said they wouldn't be able to give me heat because I had oil in my house. They wouldn't do a conversion for me," Steve Kearns said. "And then they came back later to look at the electric, and they told me they could not do the electric. Some city code or whatever. So they basically did nothing for me."
Kearns said he paid for the repairs himself while his neighbors got help from the city for free. The heating equipment cost $14,000.
"That was my FEMA money right there," he said.
Not everyone was unhappy with their experience.
Dan Mundy, the president of the Broad Channel Civic Association, said the program helped his neighborhood tremendously.
"Ten or 15 trucks would pull down onto these little side streets, and they would come into a home," Mundy said. "In many cases, within a day or two, people were up and running."
Mundy said he was in regular contact with the head of the program so that people most in need could get priority.
"Going into the winter and having a relief of knowing that you have a brand new oil burner, a new oil tank, after all the chaos and headache, it was certainly a relief," he said.
The Rapid Repairs program ended in March after officials said they finished work on more than 20,000 homes. About $500 million in federal money was pumped into the program.
As far as City Hall was concerned, it was a success.
"We literally sent a team of carpenters and plumbers and electricians into your home, no bookkeeping, no money," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "We got you new electric service, new hot water, new space heaters. FEMA paid for it."
When the program was at its peak, the city was finishing work on more than 200 homes a day, which meant more New Yorkers devastated by Hurricane Sandy could come home and stay there.