HOST INTRO: Five years ago, Hurricane Sandy barreled into New York City. Citizens of Gerritsen (GEH-RIT-SIN) Beach, Brooklyn were hit especially hard. Now, nearly 6 years later, many are still waiting for repairs. Some are yet to move back into their homes. Last night, at a town hall meeting led by State Senator Marty Golden, residents sparred with city officials about the long-overdue repairs. Eileen Grench reports.
People milling about. (0:05)
Grench 1: It was a tense night inside Public School 277, a Gerritsen Beach elementary school wedged between a marine park and the Plumb Beach Channel. Over 100 local residents crowded into the elementary school cafeteria, looking for answers about repairs and houses not finished. Lou Mendes supervises the construction and repairs on the houses, called the Build-It-Back Program. He sat at a table in front of the room along with State Senator Golden. Residents raised their hands, and the senator called them one at a time to present their grievances.
Who builds a house and puts a meter on the front?
I pay coned, they don’t pay me!
Grench 2: After nearly an hour of complaints, Mendes wondered aloud whether the Build-It-Back program had helped anyone.
Don’t we have some people here that are happy…Don’t we have some compliments?
Grench3: There was sympathy from at least one resident for the officials on the stage.
I’m worried about you Lou, I think you’re getting what’s called second-hand post-traumatic stress!
Grench4: The meeting finally wrapped up nearly two hours later, and you could hardly hear yourself over the din of commiserating residents.
Chairs snapping back, talking.
Grench 5: Nearly 50 residents are still waiting to be rebuilt. One of them, Kevin, says that at first he was told his house could be repaired. Then, after 4 years, he was told they would instead demolish his house and build him a new one.
I’ve been staying with friends, family. Now since October 2016 they’ve been paying our rent while they built our house.
If you could take one thing away from this meeting, what would you want to get out of this?
That people are going to do what they say.
Grench 7: Another local resident, Tami, has been comign to these meetings since Day 1. She says every time you come, it’s the same thing.
They say that they’re going to do this and then it takes forever. And maybe you know you have two complaints and maybe one get addressed, you know, which is why I’ve been to every single meeting since the storm.
Grench 7: Tami said among other problems, her door won’t shut and her house has heating issues.
I think me along with everybody else they want to be heard. They don’t want to be dismissed. They don’t want to be told your house is beautiful you should be grateful which is what I was told while I was there.
Grench 8: The Senator Golden says that’s why he’s called this meeting. The Build-It-Back program was scheduled to be completed in 2016. But now, Senator Golden hopes to finish the reconstruction work by the end of this year.
I think we’re going to get eggs in the face here if we’re not done by the sixth anniversary.
Grench 9: Reporting from Gerristen Beach, Brooklyn, this is Eileen Grench. Columbia Radio news.