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De Blasio asks for patience as Sandy victims demand faster rebuilding effort

By Ivan Pereira
February 24, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials said Mondaymore time is needed to fully implement the city’s latest superstorm Sandy recovery and rebuilding efforts.

The mayor met with Staten Island Borough President James Oddo and other elected officials from the borough Monday to discuss plans to speed up programs and financial aid that is supposed to go to the affected neighborhoods, particularly the Build it Back Program.

Last week Kathryn Mallon, the director of Build it Back, unexpectedly resigned. Very little of the program’s $648 million in funding has been doled out to the thousands of applicants and no home damaged in the Oct. 29, 2012 storm has been rebuilt through the initiative.

The mayor acknowledged the difficulties and promised to deliver a more efficient and clear plan.

“All levels of government have to do better,” he said at a Staten Island news conference following the closed-door meeting with officials.

Although de Blasio said he will be releasing a more detailed and updated Sandy recovery plan in the next few weeks, he didn’t give an exact date or details.

That didn’t sit well with the dozens of Sandy victims and relief groups who packed the steps of City Hall before de Blasio’s announcement. Many in attendance noted that de Blasio toured the Sandy-affected areas when he was campaigning and promised to make rebuilding a top priority.

Bennett Davon Bennett recalled how the mayor visited his family’s home in the Rockaways in the fall and urged him to keep to his word since the house may have to be razed.

“We as a community are waiting for Mayor de Blasio to keep his commitment,” he said.

Father Fulgencio Guitierrez, of St. Mary Star of the Sea & St. Gertrude Parish in Far Rockaway, said pushing Sandy rebuilding efforts would be an asset to the mayor’s fight against inequality because not only would it provide his community with better infrastructure, it would create hundreds of jobs.

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“I don’t blame anyone who’s frustrated. I would say to them, I think fairly and objectively, when our plan comes out soon, judge that,” he said.

To read the full article, visit AM New York.