Bloomberg’s contractor army: ‘We’re gonna get a bunch of carpenters, electricians, plumbers, whatever’

Bloomberg on Friday. (via NYC.gov)
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a new program designed to meet the needs of New Yorkers frustrated by the slow pace of rebuilding efforts in New York City: "NYC Rapid Repairs."

"We're gonna get a bunch of carpenters, electricians, plumbers, whatever," he said this afternoon in City Hall.

The idea, said the mayor, is to get as many people as possible back in their homes by the end of the year.

According to the mayor, about 50,000 Con Ed customers still have no electricity 11 days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall.

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About 30,000 of those customers live in streets where there is power, but in homes where the wiring is so damaged by saltwater that repairs first need to be made before the homes are reconnected to the grid.

Meanwhile, in Rockaway, the Long Island Power Authority has as many as 40,000 customers without power.

The mayor has earlier complained about a lack of qualified electricians to install generators and today he said this new program is designed to connect homeowners with what is apparently a scarce resource in the aftermath of the hurricane.

For those whose homes are so severely damaged that they will have to be basically rebuilt, the mayor said he should have a plan for them sometime next week.

Under pressure for the slow pace of recovery at the city's public housing developments, the mayor also said the city, "using an army of 600 extra private contractors," would have "all but a handful" of projects hooked to the grid by tonight or tomorrow.

Heat and hot water could take until the middle of next week, with some developments taking longer.

NYC Rapid Repairs, which the mayor expects FEMA to fully fund, will work by making general contractors responsible for particular geographic areas. Each of those contractors, in turn, will be responsible for hiring subcontractors, be they plumbers, carpenters or electricians.

The program will begin on Tuesday.

In order to sign up, homeowners must attain a FEMA ID number.

In other news, President Barack Obama is coming to New York City next week, said the mayor.

And unlike the president's first attempt to visit, when he was turned away by the mayor, this time the mayor said, "We're honored to have him."