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Sandy One Year Later: City Agencies Got Mixed Reviews For Storm Response

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TWC News: Sandy One Year Later: City Agencies Got Mixed Reviews For Storm Response
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With the city reeling from Hurricane Sandy, the Bloomberg administration sprang into action. But its handling of the devastating aftermath drew mixed reviews, as some agencies won praise for their performance and others faced mounds of criticism. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Clearing the streets of debris and rubble was one of the most immediate challenges in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. For some sanitation workers, that meant cleaning up their own neighborhoods.

"I'm a Rockaway guy, and I take it to heart," Jim McGovern, deputy chief of the Sanitation Department, said on November 4, 2012. "We're going to do a good job."

More than 500 sanitation workers flooded into the Rockaway Peninsula after the storm, working around the clock in shifts. They needed to make the roads passable, which meant clearing mounds of sand more than six feet high.

"They've been doing a bang-up job here. They've been taking all the sand off this block," one person said at the time.

Though many New Yorkers appreciated the Sanitation Department's work after the storm, the same cannot be said of the city's public housing authority. Residents there said they felt abandoned, trapped in high-rise apartments without heat or power.

"I guess they forgot about us. We don't exist," one person said at the time.

Part of the problem was the disconnect between city officials and the situation on the ground. More than two weeks after the storm, the city announced that power was back in all public housing buildings, but there were still many residents without power in their apartments. It wasn't until three weeks after the storm that heat and hot water were restored in all public housing buildings.

Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway defended the agency, known as NYCHA, during an interview at City Hall.

"All critical services were restored in NYCHA by November 18," Holloway said. "There were high-end apartment buildings right around here that took months longer than that."

There was a massive amount of damage to city schools as well. In all, 72 suffered from the storm, and 75,000 students needed a new place to go.

By mid-January, the Department of Education had reopened every school building. When school officials went before the City Council in February, council members who are often critical of the department offered praise.

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