As three City Council members shared a bipartisan proposal for new regulations for home elevations in Hurricane Sandy-affected areas on Wednesday, Sen. Charles Schumer said that the state is fighting for a second round of federal funds for long-term solutions to prevent storm damage.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a Democrat, was joined at City Hall by two Staten Island Republicans — Councilmen Vincent Ignizio and James Oddo — to announce the bill they will introduce next week will make sure any home elevation work is supervised by a special inspector.
The Department Of Buildings would also be alerted 48 hours before a building is elevated, so that DOB officials could monitor the work.
"We want to make sure that the elevation work is done safely and appropriately. Elevating a home is simply not lifting a house and putting it on stilts," Quinn said. "It's a complex process and proper measures have to be taken before and during the work to make sure it's done in the safest way possible."
Ignizio and Oddo had a fact-finding mission in New Orleans last month, where they were advised by Louisiana officials to create laws to prevent shoddy elevation work, like what occurred on the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.
The councilmen took a picture of a house in Louisiana that was placed on tall stilts but did not have a staircase.
"Make sure you have a process in place and you have licensed people doing it. Because what you had in New Orleans was you had people come from all over the country," Ignizio said. "It was your classic story of, 'Hey this guy said he would raise your house for $50,000? I'll do it for 20 grand, just give me the 20 grand, I'll take care of it.' And they would do a terrible job."
On Wednesday morning, Sen. Charles Schumer discussed inside politics involved in getting Congress to authorize federal aid for Sandy relief last month at a breakfast at the Conrad Hotel in the Battery Park section of Manhattan, run by the Association for a Better New York.
The senator said that New Yorkers should prepare to fight for a second round of federal recovery funds to enact longer-term strategies to prevent a future Sandy-type storm from inflicting the same sort of damage.
He said the money will make rebuilding possible, but rising global temperatures mean future storms like Sandy are a fact of life that the city needs to prepare for.
"All of the Sandy funding is a great first step. However, it's the equivalent of a budgetary one-shot," Schumer said. "And as we move forward with short-term mitigation, the kind of mitigation I mentioned, we need simultaneously to focus on phase two. A long-term plan to protect New York from future storms, weather related disasters, and what we know will happen, the rising level of the ocean, which is occurring much more quickly than we ever imagined."
Schumer said the Army Corps of Engineers has started its $20 million assessment of coastal areas damaged by Sandy, which he wants to see completed in 18 months.
Their findings will shape the measures taken to protect the city from future storms.
Sandy Storm Debris Cleanup To End On March 18
City Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty announced Wednesday that storm debris cleanup in areas of Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn affected by Hurricane Sandy is ending on March 18.
Sanitation officials estimate that city crews have collected more than 415,000 tons of storm debris.
They also say that crews are only picking up 10 bulky items at each home and wood must be shorter than four feet in length and bound in order to be collected.
Crews are also not picking up construction debris or rubble from large demolition projects.