Sandy Damaged Schools Waiting on FEMA

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Damage to public school buildings cost New York City an estimated $175 million, and reimbursement from the federal government has been slow in coming.

The Department of Education spent $110 million dollars while the School Construction Authority spent $65 million on Sandy-related repairs and supplies, school officials told City Council members on Tuesday.

Lorriane Grillo, SCA president, said authority officials will meet with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday. To date, FEMA has visited only eight of the 50 schools damaged by the hurricane that swept across the region this fall.

“We're going to ask them to move a little more quickly because we're ready to move forward,” she said.

School visits are the first step in the reimbursement process; Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he accepted the FEMA timeline.

“We have our plans in place to do the necessary work, but it’s a joint operation because we need to be reimbursed, we need to follow their protocol for the proper reimbursement, and we’re going to adhere to that,” he said.

Some of the schools face residual damage to gymnasiums, auditoriums and sports fields while others are relying on temporary boilers. The emergency funds allowed the schools to re-open but the department needs FEMA funds to complete the work.

Grillo said she hopes to work with FEMA and design specialists to have concrete plans by the end of the school year.

As for the students affected by Sandy, the D.O.E. said there are 1,300 students still displaced from their schools, by choice.

These students can remain at their current schools for as long as necessary. In a separate announcement, the D.O.E. said Tuesday it would offer long-term support to students in the schools hardest hit by Sandy.

The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City pledged approximately $2 million in hurricane relief, the bulk of it for counseling and mentoring services in 30 schools.

Reporting by Christine Streich

Sandy, Before and After Photos by

NYC Department of Education