New Yorkers displaced by Sandy could be returning to their homes as early as next week under a new program unveiled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The program, called NYC Rapid Repairs, is a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Residents who want to seek relief through the program must have a FEMA ID number, which will be given to people regardless of how much damage they have or their insurance and mortgage status. They can register for one at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.
Several restoration centers to assist with the program will be set up throughout the city. Those locations can be found at nyc.gov or by calling 311.
As part of the program, according to Bloomberg, contractors will be assigned to different parts of the city hit hardest by Sandy. Those contractors will then hire subcontractors, who will repair the homes.
The contractors will work with the city Department of Buildings over the weekend to determine which homes can be part of the first wave of the program.
According to Bloomberg, homes that will be included in the first wave are ones that have a green placard on them (meaning they are structurally sound) and are on a street with electricity.
Bloomberg said this is because they want to get quicker projects done first. Homes with red and yellow placards will still be able to apply for assistance under the plan.
Earlier Friday, on his weekly radio show, the mayor had a grim assessment of Sandy's damage.
The mayor estimated about 1,000 one and two-family houses were destroyed by the storm.
He says between 70,000 and 80,000 suffered water damage.
He says heat and electricity are handled by equipment which may have been damaged by salt water, and that can be a very dangerous situation.
"So if the utility company puts power in the street, you still can't turn it on until you go to every single house and either fix their panel, ascertain they didn't have water damage, or if you can't get into the house, disconnect the line to the house. Because otherwise you can't turn on anybody in that block," Bloomberg noted.
For homeowners without electricity or heat, Bloomberg says FEMA will pay about $30,000 if their insurance does not cover damage or they cannot get a loan or a mortgage.
I'm not in the habit of taking Michael Bloomberg at his word, but I'd like to do just that in this case.
I hope this program is exactly what he says it is and I hope it starts putting people back in their homes as quickly as possible.