Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Comptroller John C. Liu today announced a $500 million emergency plan to make critical repairs to public schools and public hospitals damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The plan calls for an appropriation of $200 million for the Department of Education and $300 million for the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation to repair extensive damage to school and hospital buildings. The repair needs include structural restorations, new boilers, new electrical systems, roofs repairs, flood remediation and more. The City Council is expected to vote on the appropriation plan at Tuesday’s Council hearing and, if passed, the funding will be an addition to capital funds in the current year (Fiscal Year 2013) Capital Commitment Plan. The Administration and Comptroller Liu have also worked together to approve emergency spending for Hurricane Sandy relief, which now totals $134 million. The spending plan announced today and emergency spending represent only a portion of the spending that will be required and additional appropriations will be made this year as necessary. The Mayor, Speaker and Comptroller made the announcement as P.S. 207 Rockwood Park in Howard Beach, Queens, one of 23 school buildings housing 37 schools closed for repairs. The building will need new oil tanks and electrical wiring, and students, teachers and staff have been reassigned to other school sites in the interim. The officials were joined by Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott, Health and Hospital Corporation President Alan D. Aviles, City Council Finance Chairman Domenic M. Recchia and Council Member Eric A. Ulrich.
“Our city has never experienced a storm as destructive as Hurricane Sandy, and financing for these repairs is as necessary as is it urgent,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “These school buildings and public hospitals are resources that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers rely on every day – and we are not waiting for Federal aid to begin the work of repairing and re-opening them. This emergency capital spending is vital investment in our recovery and future.”
“Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage throughout the city and the emergency funding the Council will approve tomorrow is a demonstration that we’re taking this seriously,” said Speaker Quinn. “This funding will help to repair facilities that are urgently needed so that patients have a place to be cared for, and our students will have places to learn. I want to thank the Mayor, Comptroller and my Council colleagues for taking this seriously and working together to swiftly approve this vital funding.”
“This plan is critical to our city’s recovery efforts, getting schools and hospitals up and running and returning our residents to as close to normalcy as possible. The City’s finances are secure enough to withstand this need; nonetheless we will work to recover these funds from FEMA,” said Comptroller Liu. “Whether volunteering at shelters and collecting goods for those in need, or authorizing emergency spending and issuing bonds to rebuild our schools and hospitals, my office will continue to do all that is necessary to ensure that our city emerges even stronger from this devastating hurricane.”
“A key indicator that our city is getting back on track is students getting back to class in their school building,” said Chancellor Walcott. “This generous capital investment in the repair effort demonstrates a commitment to the success of our students and the communities hardest hit by Sandy.”
“The serious storm-related damage to several facilities within our public hospitals system is unprecedented,” said Health and Hospital Corporation President Aviles. “We have an army of personnel working around the clock to restore services as soon as possible so we can continue to meet the healthcare needs of New Yorkers. We are grateful to the Mayor and the City Council for appropriating funds to ensure that this immediate work can proceed without delay, even as we plan the expensive modifications that will be necessary to protect these facilities in the future from any similar catastrophic event.”
Hurricane Sandy damaged public school and hospital buildings throughout the city, with the most severe damage in the Rockaways, Staten Island and South Brooklyn. As of Monday, 37 schools will remain closed due to structural damage and more buildings are in need of ongoing repairs. Students, teachers and staff have been reassigned to other temporary sites until their buildings are restored. Bellevue Hospital Center, Coney Island Hospital and the Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility on Roosevelt Island sustained extensive damage and require repairs and replacements to boiler systems, back-up generators, elevators, ventilation, air-conditioning and electrical systems, and areas damaged by flooding.
The City already has authorized $134 million in spending following Hurricane Sandy to provide emergency services and recovery and relief programs. Those expenses include:
The City’s overtime costs for the response to Hurricane Sandy will be in addition to these amounts already authorized.
“Our schools and hospitals were hit particularly hard by Hurricane Sandy,” said Council Member Recchia, Chair of the City Council Committee on Finance. “In making our recovery, it is absolutely essential that we work urgently to repair and rebuild these services because they are the foundation of our community’s well-being. This accelerated financing is a critical investment that allows us to move quickly to get the job done where it is needed most.”
“This city and its volunteers have done a tremendous job of responding to the needs of those of us who have been impacted most by Sandy,” said Council Member Robert Jackson, Chair of the Council Education Committee. “Undoubtedly, there is still much to do and this is another great example of prioritizing resources to speed up the process of helping us rebuild our lives. Giving the affected communities back their public schools and hospitals will greatly help bring back a sense of normalcy and stability to our most vulnerable- our children, our elderly, our sick and our disabled. Our children are especially eager to get back to their schools so that they can resume their routine and feel safe again. These challenging times serves as a reminder that we are all fellow New Yorkers united in the cause of rebuilding and protecting our city.”