Out Cold: Temperatures plummet, some in Rockaways still without heat, homes
Earlier this week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the Rapid Repairs program had completed work on more than 10,000 homes damaged by Sandy.
But with temperatures dropping nearly to single digits, and the National Weather Service predicting snow over the weekend and quoting wind chill factors “as low as 2 below,” concerns are mounting for those still waiting on heat and hot water.
Valerie Close of the Queens Congregation United for Action reported that a lot of people in the Rockaways still don’t have heat, estimating it could be between 5,000 and 6,000 residents.
“We’re not in a third world country, we’re in a fourth world country; that’s how we feel out here,” Close relayed.
People who have electricity are using space heaters, she said, but there aren’t enough to go around, “so you have the whole family crowded in one room.”
Some people still lack running water.
Close said Rapid Repairs is in the Rockaways, but shared a local “funny joke”: “it’s not so rapid.”
“I’m guessing they’re doing the best they can,” Close said. “At this point I don’t know what else to think.”
What to do after the 26th?
A lot of people are concerned about the FEMA hotel program running out after January 26, Close related.
“They’re wondering where they’re supposed to go,” Close explained, noting the below freezing temperatures and homes still in disrepair. Mold is reportedly still a major problem in some homes.
Close expressed hope that FEMA may extend the program again, as they did earlier this month, but said the instability is wearing on her and others.
“You don’t know one day or the other if you’re going to have any place to live,” she said.
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat