More than three years after Hurricane Sandy’s waters rushed through south Queens, plenty of people in Broad Channel and the Rockaways are still trying to rebuild their homes at great personal expense.
Even so, residents still in rebuilding mode are getting charged hundreds of dollars a year by the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for water and sewer lines they cannot use. Broad Channel resident Joan Marie Delahunt, who still has yet to return to her home, pays more than $4,000 a month for Sandy-related expenses and cannot afford such additional charges.
“I’m in debt. There are things I just can’t pay despite working three jobs, and life just seems to go on as usual for everybody,” Delahunt said in a press release from Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder’s office. “For three years, I’ve been paying water bills on something that’s not rebuilt. It’s maddening that there’s nothing there, and I’m still being charged this minimum usage charge.”
The charge Delahunt referred to is the $1.27 per day service charge for water and sewer connections that the DEP charges every city homeowner. This adds up to more than $460 per year — and more than $1,400 after Hurricane Sandy — in extra expenses incurred by owners of homes severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Goldfeder recently wrote to DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd asking that the city waive the minimum service charges for homeowners still displaced by Sandy.
“Every day out of their home means mounting bills and growing stress,” he said in a press release. “Charging families for basic services that they can’t receive is simply adding insult to injury to those who have already suffered so much. I urge the [DEP] to step up and help our families, not penalize them for still being displaced.”