As families throughout South Queens and Rockaway face another holiday season unable to move back into their homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy more than one year ago, a borough legislator and civic leaders are pleading with the state for some relief.
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway) and John Cori, co-founder of the Friends of Rockaway, are urging the state Department of Environmental Conservation to expedite all permit applications related to Sandy recovery for homeowners in Broad Channel and Howard Beach. Additionally, Goldfeder is urging the state to fast-track community-wide infrastructure and mitigation projects, including the baffle walls and boardwalk in Rockaway.
“We need to protect our most vulnerable communities immediately to ensure a full recovery for all residents,” Goldfeder said in a prepared statement. “Our families are working around the clock to recover and rebuild from Sandy, and every agency on every level of government must do the same.”
Families throughout South Queens who have been rebuilding homes devastated by the storm in October 2012 have said they have been frustrated to tears while waiting for approval on permits from multiple agencies, including the DEC. The permits, residents have said, are just one of a myriad barriers they have faced after the hurricane, from a lack of support from insurance companies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to flood maps that many say could result in such a spike in flood insurance that it would bankrupt them.
Additionally, the large community resiliency projects – such as the baffle wall and boardwalk – would offer much-needed storm protection, but their construction needs to be approved by the slow-moving state DEC.
“We need NYS DEC to expedite all permitting for our boardwalk, especially the retaining wall that will act as a protective barrier and help in mitigation efforts to prepare our community for future storms,” said Cori.
Last week, Goldfeder sent a letter to DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens requesting that his agency work with the city Department of Buildings, the Parks Department, and the city Economic Development Corporation to review and approve all permits related to homes and infrastructure projects in Sandy-damaged communities in South Queens and Rockaway.
“Our families have been through enough suffering, and there is no excuse for even a moment’s delay,” Goldfeder said. “I strongly urge the [DEC] to expedite the permit process to rebuild our homes and community, which would not only provide relief for our families, but it will also ensure that our neighborhoods in southern Queens and Rockaway are adequately prepared for future storms.”
By Anna Gustafson