RED HOOK — Nearly five years after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area, NYCHA next week will break ground on a $63 million FEMA-funded project that that will replace all 28 roofs at the Red Hook Houses.
The reconstruction is the first stage of a five-year repair process that will go toward new boilers, back-up generators and a slew of other updates at the public housing development, the head of New York City Housing Authority said at a Tuesday news conference.
"We’re building back stronger with storm resilient technology so that NYCHA residents and all New Yorkers will be safer from storms," said Shola Olatoye, the CEO of NYCHA.
The 28 Red Hook Houses are among the more than 750 public housing buildings that were damaged during the 2012 storm, many of which are still getting back on their feet years later, said one tenant who has lived in 791 Hicks Street for more than 30 years.
"The power still goes out and we still dealing with mold, but other than that we're surviving," said Frances Brown, the president of the tenant association for Red Hook East, to DNAinfo New York. "It was a long haul, I'm just praying that things get rolling now."
And after the city of Houston was pounded by Hurricane Harvey last week, it is more crucial than ever that New York City takes lessons from the past and turns them into action, said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.
"We need to learn from Sandy," said Velazquez. "In less than five years this nation has witnessed three [strong] storms, Sandy, Harvey and now Irma. In five years. We have to make sure that the rebuilding that we do is built to last."
FEMA allocated $3 billion to NYCHA for storm repairs after Sandy, $550 million of which is devoted to major renovations at the Red Hook Houses that include replacing electrical and plumbing, building elevated courtyards to provide flood protected building entrances and the replacement of more than a dozen play areas scattered across the development.
As the first step, each building is being upgraded to new liquid-applied roofing at the hands of Technico, the project's contractor. In addition to eliminating leaks, the lining provides better insulation for tenants and will be upgraded in waves of four buildings at a time.
Roof reconstruction is expected to wrap up during the autumn of 2019. Meanwhile, in the spring of 2018 flood proofing of basements and other areas will begin and is expected to conclude toward the end of 2019.
Construction on annexes above the flood level to house utilities will commence in early 2018 along with the remaining repairs that are expected to last until at least 2021.