Build It Back finally building momentum


More than a year after Superstorm Sandy ripped through Queens, the efforts to repair damaged homes and businesses are finally starting to pick up speed, officials said Friday.

There has been a marked increase in every category of the relief process, including the issuance of 227 reimbursement checks totaling $3.4 million, according to a new report from the mayor’s office. There were no checks issued during the last administration, the report says.

The first 42 construction starts of the relief effort occurred this year as well, officials said.

“Five hundred construction starts by labor day and 500 reimbursement checks in the hands of the people, who have been waiting for a long, long time. That will show people that every level of government is working for them. So things are working- and every one of us is going to push each other to keep going further,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Build It Back event last month.

Homeowners are still skeptical of the Build It Back process.

“The old commissioner let it get out of hand,” Howard Beach resident Anthony DeRisl said.  DeRisl suffered $77,000 in damages from Sandy and said he has been to numerous Build It Back events but has yet to see any compensation.

“We want to know where all the money is,” DeRisl said. “We’ve had the same experience everywhere we go.”

With the third round of Sandy relief funds coming to the city, totaling about $639 million, “Everyone in Build It Back program will get their assistance,” said mayoral spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick.

“Until every home is rebuilt and all the money is allocated,” Spitalnick said, “our job isn’t done.”