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City's $500 Million Emergency Fund Will Repair Schools and Hospitals

By  Julie  Shapiro and Ben Fractenberg | November 12, 2012 4:15pm | Updated on November 12, 2012 5:22pm

HOWARD BEACH — The city is launching a $500 million emergency fund to repair schools and hospitals damaged by Hurricane Sandy, officials announced Monday.

The money will repair boilers, electrical systems, roofs, backup generators and more at the 37 schools and three public hospitals that have been closed since the storm.

"To our knowledge, New York City government has never before made such an emergency provision for additional capital spending because of a natural disaster, and certainly never one of this size," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday. "But our city, I think it is fair to say, is experiencing a storm as destructive as Sandy was and we've never done that before."

The City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on allocating the emergency capital funds, but officials hope the federal government will ultimately reimburse the city for the costs.

The city also announced plans Monday to save money in the budget by boosting the price of school lunches from $1.50 to $2.50 and by installing new parking meters and upping parking fees.

The damaged hospitals that are still closed are Bellevue Hospital Center, Coney Island Hospital and the Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility on Roosevelt Island, officials said.

Bellevue will begin offering outpatient care Nov. 19, but full service, like emergency and inpatient care, will not resume until the first week of February, the Health and Hospitals Corporation said.

Coney Island hospital will reopen the first week of January, the HHC said. 

Bloomberg and other city officials announced the emergency repairs fund Monday afternoon at the shuttered P.S. 207 in Howard Beach, which was heavily damaged and needs new oil tanks and electrical wiring.

Ann Marie Giallo, who has two children at P.S. 207 who are temporarily assigned to other schools, was glad to hear that an infusion of funds could help the school reopen.

"They do need that normalcy brought back to them," Giallo said. "At this point, the kids really miss the school."

Five damaged schools are slated to reopen Wednesday: M.S. Brian Piccolo, Village Academy, P.S. 104 The Bays Water, P.S. 146 Howard Beach and P.S. 47 Chris Galas.

Seventeen more schools are scheduled to reopen by Nov. 19, and an additional 14 by Nov. 30.

In addition to the new $500 million emergency fund, the city has already authorized $134 million in spending after Sandy, which included $20 million to repair the Battery Park Overpass, $1.7 million to fix the Whitehall and St. George ferry terminals and $12 million to remove debris.

Bloomberg said he expects the total cost to city from Sandy to run into the "billions of dollars."

Also on Monday, the mayor signed an emergency order waiving application and permit fees for contractors repairing buildings damaged by Hurricane Sandy.