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Superstorm Sandy Victims: NYC Build It Back Program Needs Rebuilding

Superstorm Sandy victims and other community leaders hold a rally on the steps of City Hall on Feb. 24, 2014. (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

Superstorm Sandy victims and other community leaders hold a rally on the steps of City Hall on Feb. 24, 2014. (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A coalition of community leaders and New Yorkers whose homes were devastated by Superstorm Sandy showed up on the steps of City Hall on Monday to say they’re fed up with the lack of financial assistance they’ve received.

One speaker claimed that of the more than 25,000 residents who applied for aid through the Build It Back program, none have received a payout.

As 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported, protesters carried black and yellow signs that read “REBUILD NOW.”

The coalition — made up of members from the groups the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding and Faith in New York — called for Mayor Bill de Blasio to work with them to get the Build It Back program started again. They suggested he could use exisiting federal funds to reboot the program.

“There’s a lot of people here who have applied to the Build It Back program, but have not yet seen help,” said Nathalie Alegre, a coordinator with the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding.

Speaking to reporters Monday, De Blasio asked Sandy victims for more time to steady the city’s rocky Sandy recovery effort.

He said those hardest hit by the storm have a right to be frustrated. He promised a review of the Build It Now program.

Bennett Davon Bennett said his parents’ home and their lives in Far Rockaway have been devastated by the October 2012 storm.

“My parents have depleted their savings, their retirement and my sister’s college savings,” he told Papa.

Bennett said it’s only getting worse. His family has been told the damaged home has to be torn down

Yvonne Rankine, who also lives in Far Rockaway, said her basement was flooded, moldy and gutted.

“We have a sinkhole, we have a lot of damages, and we’re still at the same place we were pretty much right after Sandy,” Rankine said.

New York City isn’t the only area having issues with the distribution of Sandy aid.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, a New Jersey Assembly bill would provide transparency and accountability when it comes to financial assistance.

Gov. Chris Christie insists he’s doing everything possible to make sure Sandy victims get the money they need. But Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-Trenton, said she’s skeptical.

“We don’t have any reason to trust the governor on anything he says,” she said.

Coleman pointed to millions in aid that have gone to projects in towns with no flooding.

The legislation attempts to “ensure that we have some real-time oversight into what’s happening with the Sandy recovery money,” Coleman said.

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