• Electricians work in the basement of a flooded New York City building on December 1 to make the house habitable as shelter during full restoration of flood damage. The city’s Rapid Repairs program has drawn criticism for the pace of progress, prompting calls for FEMA to provide temporary trailers to the region as well.
    Electricians work in the basement of a flooded New York City building on December 1 to make the house habitable as shelter during full restoration of flood damage. The city’s Rapid Repairs program has drawn criticism for the pace of progress, prompting calls for FEMA to provide temporary trailers to the region as well.

New York City residents whose houses were damaged by Hurricane Sandy are facing the onset of winter — many of them while trying to shelter in those damaged homes. And according to a report in the online Wall Street Journal, there has been only slow progress in a city program intended to get those houses habitable in the short term (“Slow Pace of Flood Repairs a Concern in New York City,” by Associated Press).

“Thousands of residents along the New York and New Jersey coastlines still lack power and heat after the October storm and a tidal surge turned basement furnaces and electrical panels into worthless junk,” the story says. By mid-December, New York City officials said, 13,600 New Yorkers were still waiting for repair work to start under the city’s Rapid Repairs program, while just 2,625 dwellings had received their temporary fix and work was still underway on another 2,800.

Meantime, emergency legislation to provide funding for hurricane recovery to the affected states is bogged down in the lame-duck Congress, as Democrats and Republicans spar over the details, reports the website Politico (“Sandy bill’s extras draw attacks from the right,” by Kathryn A. Wolf and Burgess Everett).

“Some Republicans are pressing for the bill to be scrubbed of anything that wouldn’t meet an urgent need,” Politico reports. “That includes the billions of dollars included in the Senate bill for ‘mitigation,’ which is code for taking steps not only to fix the current problem but to reinforce those systems to withstand a future storm.” New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand counters that mitigation is important for public-sector projects: “"The reality is, if you're going to rebuild a subway like this and you don't do it in a way that protects against flooding the next time, then you're wasting your money," she said.

According to the Politico report, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky) has said not to expect the relief bill to be ready before Christmas.