NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – It’s been nearly 18 months since Hurricane Sandy tore through Westchester County, but New Rochelle continues rebuilding Hudson Park beach and the Municipal Marina, as Sen. Chuck Schumer observed firsthand on Thursday.
Schumer came to New Rochelle to view the damage, which includes a seawall that is collapsing into the river, and to publicly urge FEMA to expedite approval on nearly $4 million in federal funds to help the city with the rebuild.
Schumer noted that, while $4 million is a drop in the bucket for the federal organization, it puts an inordinate strain on New Rochelle’s budget. Twice the city has been approved for the funding, and twice it has been rejected. City officials had a third, lengthy, application on for the funding, filled out ready for submission on Thursday.
“The city should be eligible for assistance, and getting the money should not be a steeplechase where you have to go through 20 checkpoints,” Schumer said. “The city is caught in a game of bureaucratic ping pong.”
Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc on the waterfront at Hudson Park, with more than 10 feet of water and waves knocking boats from their bearings and onto the adjacent parking lot. The city applied to FEMA for relief shortly after the storm hit, but still haven’t received full reimbursement.
“Here we are, many months later. It’s the first day of spring, and summer beach season is around the corner,” Mayor Noam Bramson said. “There needs to be a sense of urgency to provide the services and facilities our residents expect.”
According to the city, repairs at Hudson Park alone, which includes the concrete sundeck and fallen seawall, will approach $3 million. Dock repairs at the Municipal Marina will total nearly $1 million. If FEMA doesn’t reimburse the city, the burden will fall to New Rochelle taxpayers.
“People cannot put their lives on hold as they wait for relief,” Rep. Eliot Engel said through his spokesman. “Help is desperately needed in New Rochelle. We will continue to cut through the red tape and get these essential funds to the community.”