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USNYC Leaves Billions in Sandy Aid Unspent, Adding to Risks

00:31  10 may  2019
00:31  10 may  2019 Source:   bloomberg.com

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New York City has only spent 54% of the .7 billion in already-approved U.S. funds for recovery and storm-protection following 2012’s Hurricane Sandy , according to city Comptroller Scott Stringer. The unspent money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of

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(Bloomberg) -- New York City has only spent 54% of the $14.7 billion in already-approved U.S. funds for recovery and storm-protection following 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, according to city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

The unspent money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development could be used to protect public housing and hospitals and fund large-scale engineering proposals to safeguard low-lying vulnerable neighborhoods such as Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay and Breezy Point, according to a report issued Thursday.

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“Six years after Sandy hit, we still haven’t fully recovered and many of the city’s homes, businesses, schools and hospitals remain dangerously exposed to the next storm,” said Stringer, who’s been fundraising toward a possible 2021 mayoral candidacy. “Safeguarding our shorefront is not a priority we can kick down the road.”

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Jainey Bavishi, director of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, denied the existence of any spending lag. Most of the federal money didn’t become available until 2015, she said, and is on schedule to be spent in future years, at a rate faster than the national average for disaster recovery, she said.

6 Years After Hurricane Sandy, Here’s What They Came Up With: Really Big Sandbags

6 Years After Hurricane Sandy, Here’s What They Came Up With: Really Big Sandbags [What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.] After Hurricane Sandy devastated New York in 2012, city officials considered some drastic responses to storm surges, like long concrete sea walls and tall earthen berms. But as the seventh hurricane season since then approaches, the city is relying on something more modest as the first line of defense against another inundation of Manhattan: a row of glorified sandbags. In the next few months, the city’s Office of Emergency Management plans to oversee the installation of four-foot-tall sacks of soil along the East River esplanade, from Wall Street to just north of the Brooklyn Bridge.

A year after Hurricane Sandy , only a fraction of the billion in aid passed by Congress has reached people who need help. Hurricane Sandy swamped boilers and electrical systems on Ellis Island, leaving it without power for months. Ellis reopened Monday, almost exactly a year after the storm.

As of Tuesday, more than 0 billion was left in the fund, known as the Paycheck Protection Program. On Wednesday last week, Congress moved to loosen the program’s rules and give businesses more flexibility in spending their aid , and President Trump signed the bill on Friday.

“The risks posed to New Yorkers by climate change are real, they are severe, and we are acting with unparalleled urgency to address them,” she said in an email. “Re-envisioning hundreds of miles of waterfront in a dense, urban environment, conducting robust community engagement, and constructing unprecedented, large-scale infrastructure projects are all complex, multi-year endeavors.”

In March, de Blasio announced a $10 billion plan to push out the lower Manhattan coastline as much as 500 feet, or two city blocks, to protect billions of dollars of property. Sea barrier boardwalks have been built in the Rockaways in southern Queens, and other measures are underway in Staten Island.

The city has about 500 miles of vulnerable coastline, in which about $102 billion worth of property is situated, according to Stringer’s report. The National Academy of Science predicts that by 2030, rising sea levels could place these areas at risk to Sandy-like storms once every five years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Goldman in New York at hgoldman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Flynn McRoberts at fmcroberts1@bloomberg.net, Michael B. Marois, Stacie Sherman

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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