Friday, November 30, 2012

Rockaway Update: THE WAVE IS BACK - Bloomberg Visits

I got a call last night from one of the leaders of Occupy who I met last year -- he found my business card and realizing I lived out here and wrote for The Wave called. "Our Occupy Sandy crew said Bloomberg visited The Wave," he said and wanted to know what I knew. Apparently Bloomberg's visit was somewhat secretive and most of the press corps didn't know about it. So he hung out at The Wave office for an exclusive interview.

The Wave is out today with its first print edition and it is FREE. I may resume my column next week or the week after. The fact that Bloomberg went there is recognition of the importance of The Wave to Rockaway.

Here is the Wave temp web site with links to all the stories.

And here is the Bloomberg interview. He talks about the city workers and the job they did and he is totally on target. Special credit goes to the Sanitation Dept which has been working 24-7 to clean this place up. Without them we would be way behind.

Concrete Boardwalk For Rockaway On Tap

Mayor Visits Wave For Exclusive Interview

At The Wave office on Thursday, from left, City Councilman Eric Ulrich; Director of Operations Caz Holliway, Wave General Manager Sanford Bernstein; Wave Publisher Susan Locke, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings- Burford. Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped into The Wave’s temporary office on the second floor in its washed-out building on Thursday to talk about the issues facing Rockaway in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which inundated the peninsula a month ago.

The discussion was wide-ranging and inclusive and the mayor, his aides and City Councilman Eric Ulrich were expansive in their comments.
On reconstructing the iconic Rockaway boardwalk:
“I guess this settles the issue of wooden boardwalks versus concrete boardwalks. There will be no more wooden boardwalks in Rockaway or anywhere else. I don’t know that we can reconstruct the boardwalk before this summer, but it will be done,”
On city workers:
“I am proud of what our city work-ers did during and after the storm. The things that the city had control over went well. Our workers did what our taxpayers had the right to have done for them. They all worked hard and did a great job.”
On bringing back business:.
“Business has now become our number one priority. Business means that people will have a place to shop – to buy food and gas, to go to a restaurant. It also means jobs for those who got laid off because their job no longer exists. We are talking to small business to insure that we do all we can to get them back running, including private money, city money and Small Business Administration loans.”
On evacuating the peninsula prior to the storm:
“We told everybody to evacuate and a large chunk of the population did. Many did not. We thought of sending cops around and taking people out of their homes, but we rejected that. We believe that people thought that we were crying wolf, but now they know better.”
On Schools:
“Somewhere in the vicinity of 50 to 60 schools were damaged and did not open when the vacation ended. We are down to five and most of them will be open in early January.”
On Looting Problem:
There was no real looting. There was a problem with burglary of homes that were dark and abandoned, but that is different than looting. Given the context of the devastation that we suffered, there was virtually no looting and local district attorneys have dismissed most of the looting arrests that were made initially.”
On the lack of electricity:
“Rockaway would have been better off if it had Con Edison rather than LIPA. National Grid is also not too great and does not even have good records about its customers. We concentrated on the larger buildings and then moved to homes. We started our Rapid Repair program to help homeowners back on line and those who signed up got the work done and paid for by FEMA. The program got emergency and potentially dangerous things taken care of – heat, hot water and electricity. More than 10,000 people signed up for the program and we have 150 teams working. We could use 500 teams.”
On issue of rebuilding in a waterfront area:
“People have to make their own decisions because there is obviously a risk in living near the water. If people don’t want to live here anymore, they can sell their property and I am sure that somebody will want to buy it.”
On the A Train:
“The trestle over Jamaica Bay was badly damaged and it will take a long time to fix it. This is not a city project, so I really can’t talk about it knowledgeably, but I do know it will take some time.”
On his continuing role in the storm’s aftermath:
“I can’t predict the future. That’s impossible to do. My job now is to make sure everybody is safe for the next 397 days and then I will be unemployed and it will be somebody else’s problem.”
2012-11-30 / Top Stories

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