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NYC Rapid Repairs Program Completes Work On More Than 20,000 Sandy-Damaged Homes

A woman walks with her dog by homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy along the beach in the Rockaways on January 15, 2013.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A woman walks with her dog by homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy along the beach in the Rockaways on January 15, 2013. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York City’s novel effort to hasten emergency home repairs after Superstorm Sandy has finished work on more than 20,000 houses and apartments.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday that the NYC Rapid Repairs program is expected to complete all its work next week.

The program dispatches contractors at government expense to install boilers, replace electrical panels and do basic work needed to make homes habitable.

“After Superstorm Sandy, many residents were left without heat, hot water or a home safe enough to live in,” stated Senator Malcolm Smith. “NYC Rapid Repairs was a much needed life preserver for these victims, providing free help to thousands of New Yorkers.”

The city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency call it an innovative approach to help storm victims rebuild and recover. It got about 54,000 people back into their own homes in a city where temporary housing can be scarce and expensive.

“It’s a new model for disaster recovery that we proved can work,” Bloomberg said.

Some residents and advocates said the repairs weren’t rapid enough, at least in the early going.

Robert Keats said contractors from the NYC Rapid Repairs program swarmed his Broad Channel home like locusts.

“When the day was done, I had heat, I had water – hot water. I had electric. They did an outstanding job,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Marla Diamond.

At the program’s peak, some 2,300 trades people were working on more than 200 homes a day.

Though Bloomberg said Friday that the program is winding down, he added “We’re not stopping here and we’re not going to forget about people that still need some help.”

A new initiative funded by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City will help homeowners in need of minor to moderate non-structural repairs.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)