Posted by Cole Hill on Nov 30, 2012 04:14 PM EST

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Touts Rapid Repairs Service for Homes Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

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President Barack Obama asked Congress on Friday to approve a $60.4 billion aid package to help East Coast states rebuild after Superstorm Sandy, well short of their initial requests. (Photo : Reuters)

After the chaos of hurricane Sandy ravaged the north East region leaving many with damaged or destroyed homes, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is telling affected homeowners in the NYC area to contact the city's Rapid Repairs teams.

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Bloomberg credits the NYC Rapid Repairs program as the main reason the city has been able to restore electricity, heat, and hot water so quickly across the city. The program provides these services free-of-charge.

"NYC Rapid Repairs teams will visit any storm-damaged house that is structurally sound, provide a free assessment of what needs to be done to get basic services restored, and then do the work for free," the mayor said in his weekly radio address on 1010 WINS, according to Staten Island Live.

For a homeowner to get the process started, residents should register with FEMA, which can be done at disasterassistance.gov, or by visiting the Disaster Restoration Center at 1976 Hylan Blvd. Once this is done, a contractor will schedule inspections by a plumber, electrician, engineer, or architect. Following that, they will explain exactly what repairs are needed, and homeowners can schedule a time to have the work finished for free. Residents who take part in the damage assessment are not required to have work done, according to Staten Island Live.

As recovery lurches on, Bloomberg announced that city schools are slowly returning to normal as well. Of the 34,000 students whose schools were disrupted by the hurricane, 26,000 are back in their normal school buildings. He also promoted "expedited, low-interest emergency loans of up to $25,000, as well supplemental grants of up to $10,000, for small businesses," said SILive.com. The loans are funded by the Mayor's fund to Advance New York City. For more information on the loans visit NYC.gov.

"Sandy hit our city hard," the mayor said. Reported SILive.com "But thousands of New Yorkers continue to step up to help: As City workers and contractors; as volunteers; and by donating generously to the relief effort. The long Thanksgiving weekend may be coming to a close, but the spirit of gratitude and community that defines this holiday -- and that's powering our post-hurricane recovery -- are stronger than ever in our city."

More than 8.5 million people across the East were without power after Hurricane Sandy made landfall Oct. 29 near Atlantic City, N.J. The New York City subway system - the largest public transportation system in the U.S. - was closed for the first time since 1985.

Sandy began in the Caribbean as a late-season hurricane, where it killed 69 people, before making landfall near Atlantic City, N.J. in the U.S. with 80 mph winds. A full moon when the storm struck at high tide, around 8:10 p.m. on Oct. 29 created a record 13-foot storm surge that flooded lower Manhattan.

Before dissipating and moving over the American mainland, Hurricane Sandy stretched from the Carolinas to Connecticut and was the largest storm by area to hit the United States in decades.

Local officials and residents of Staten Island complained Nov. 1 of a slow government response, prompting pledges from members of Congress that more help would be coming.

"A lot of people doubt the capacity of government to learn from past mistakes, but the evidence so far in this case is that there has been learning on the part of the federal government on how to prepare for disasters," said Edward Alden, director of the Renewing America Initiative at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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