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Pols blast utilities for slow storm response

A home on Beach 130th Street has a yellow tag on its door. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

With thousands in the city still without heat and power more than a week after Hurricane Sandy devastated the region, many Queens officials are blasting utility companies for an inadequate response and demanding a speedier restoration.

“There is absolutely no excuse as to why thousands of New Yorkers are still without heat and power and why all they can get from their power companies are run around answers,” said U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Middle Village) in a statement Thursday. He said Con Edison and Long Island Power Authority need to focus specifically on restoring the hardest hit areas of the city, such as the Rockaways, Broad Channel and Howard Beach. LIPA serves the Rockaways.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) echoed the congressman’s calls, saying some people in his district have spent continuous hours in the cold and can only function during daylight hours. U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and state Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) held a news conference in the Rockaways to demand Mayor Michael Bloomberg and power companies do more to provide relief to storm victims.

City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) went a step further and called on the City Council to hold hearings on the slow utility response, citing a lack of electricity, long gas station lines and no estimates as to when life would go back to normal.

“In order to deal with situations like Sandy, there is a need to assess what went right, what went wrong and whom should be held accountable,” he said.

In other developments, the city Department of Buildings is assessing damage to houses and apartments in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and is using color-coded placards to let residents know if their homes are safe to re-enter.

The placards are coded as green, yellow or red, with the following meanings:

Green means there is no apparent structural damage to a building and it is safe to enter, but it may still be flooded.

Yellow means the building is damaged, although the type of damage could range from a compromised electrical system to a localized structural problem that makes part of the building unsafe. Buildings with a yellow placard may have entry limitations listed on the placard, along with the type of damage sustained.

Red means the building is seriously damaged and unsafe to enter.

The Department says owners of buildings with a red placard and some with a yellow placard will need to make repairs and arrange to have the house or apartment reinspected.

A spokeswoman with DOB, Ryan FitzGibbon, said the department is handing out fliers to owners and residents to explain the meaning of the placards. Information is also available on the Department of Buildings website at www.nyc.gov/buildings.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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