In the long journey to recovery from Hurricane Sandy, a finish line is finally in sight with Mayor de Blasio announcing at the end of last October that the Build it Back program is on track for completion by the end of 2016.
Build it Back was overhauled in 2014 when the City took over direct management. Since then, there have been more than 2,015 construction starts (including 1,217 completions) and 5,319 reimbursement checks totaling nearly $104 million. Five thousand homes have entered design, compared to zero in 2014.
“While there has been major progress since our overhaul — including 100 percent of reimbursement checks now out to homeowners — we won’t stop pushing forward until every applicant sees relief,” said Mayor de Blasio in an October statement.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has steadily funded and reimbursed these efforts, offering grant assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures, repair, replacement and restoration. It also provides resilience funding to protect against future disasters.
The success of these efforts is revealed in the gradual decrease in FEMA grants. A huge Q3-2015 FEMA allocation gave $4.78 billion to rebuild and improve resiliency. The Q4-2015 grant was $465 million while Q1-2016 is only $16 million. By Q4-2016, that number may be zero if all goes according to plan.
Nearly half of the over $9 billion allocated so far has gone to the NYC Housing Authority and other building projects. Money is also devoted to parks, roads and bridges, hospitals and uniformed agencies.