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NYC mayor announces $108 million to repair, protect storm-damaged Coney Island Houses

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NEW YORK — Almost two years after Superstorm Sandy struck, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that a storm-damaged Brooklyn housing project will get $108 million in federal relief, and said he expects Sandy funds to flow to other public housing developments as well.

"This is a model that we know will help us in at least 15 other major NYCHA developments," de Blasio said at the Coney Island Houses, referring to the New York City Housing Authority.

The October 2012 storm dumped water and sand into the basements and first floors of the Coney Island Houses, crippling the buildings' electrical and mechanical systems and leaving residents without power for 22 days.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency money, part of a package of previously approved funds, will go toward building an elevated boiler building and installing a flood barrier system and stand-by generators.

Sen. Charles Schumer, who joined de Blasio for the announcement, said, "If you're going to spend all this money don't just do the same thing, make it better."

De Blasio lauded his administration's efforts to help New Yorkers still recovering from Sandy, with 563 homeowners receiving reimbursement checks, and said his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, did not do enough.

"I have respect for everyone in the previous administration. I am sure they were trying their best but the formula was not a good formula," he said.

Schumer said helping Sandy-affected homeowners was not Bloomberg's first priority.

"Every executive makes choices," Schumer said. "The previous mayor, Mayor Bloomberg, did a great job on resiliency — the subways, our harbors, the sands on the beaches etc. — that was his first choice. When Mayor de Blasio came in we talked early on and said we've got to do more on housing."

Cas Holloway, Bloomberg's deputy mayor for operations, defended his boss's approach to Sandy recovery.

"The Bloomberg administration spent $640 million on homeowner construction work within 120 days after the storm to help 20,000 families get back into their homes and begin to recover their lives," Holloway said in a post on Bloomberg's website Friday. "Typically those families would have been staying in trailers and motels. In New York City, as a result of the city's Rapid Repairs program, those families got to quickly return to their homes."

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