Months after the mayor promised to finish repairing homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy, the work still isn’t completed, and some of what has been done was rushed and defective, according to locals at a heated town hall at in Gerritsen Beach on March 22.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R–Gerritsen Beach) hosted the town hall at PS 277, along with the head of the city’s Build It Back program, who got an earful from angry homeowners complaining about shoddy work and slow progress.
“I’ve been trying to get my siding fixed. It’s leaking,” said Mark Coe. “A lot of people take a look, but nothing happens.”
Others claimed they were hurried back into their homes even before the repairs were finished, and now completing the work requires repeated visits from contractors.
“You rushed me into the house. It takes three to five times to fix one thing,” said Gerritsen Beacher Frank Ferone, to a round of applause.
The defensive Build It Back honcho didn’t help matters by responding to the criticism with excuses about the workload and manpower.
“We have a lot of houses we have to finish for a lot of people. I’m not gonna stand here and be criticized,” said chief operating officer Lou Mendes. “The number of contractors is scarce,” he said. “There’s not enough manpower around.”
Mendes also lashed out at one of several of his contractors who were in attendance after a homeowner complained about a newly-built roof already having problems.
“A newly-constructed roof leaks, it’s not acceptable,” he said. “Pathetic.”
Mayor DeBlasio promised at a town hall before last year’s election to have all Sandy-damaged homes fixed by the end of 2017, but Mendes now estimates that the repairs will be done by May or June.
Golden did his best to accentuate the positive. Work for most of the homes in the neighborhood has been completed, according to statistics from his office. Golden kicked off the meeting by noting that work on 88 percent of the homes in Gerritsen Beach, 71 percent in Sheepshead Bay and 98 percent in Manhattan Beach has been completed. And at the end, he led a round of applause for Mendes.
Some of the audience members also thanked the program for getting them back into their houses, despite their other complaints.
Golden said he would be touring the neighborhood on April 15, and predicted that the issues raised at the meeting would be corrected by then.
Later, he told this paper that he understands homeowners’ impatience, but defended Build It Back’s efforts.
“You can see the level of frustration. People have been waiting a long time,” said Golden. “The process is moving along. I think they’re doing their best.”