A Hurricane Ida flooding victim that Mayor Bill de Blasio wrapped his arms around in an emotional scene last month called out Hizzoner on the radio Friday, saying the feds failed to deliver the aid he promised.
“You hugged me and told me that FEMA would take care of everything,” Woodside resident Julia Nieves told de Blasio during his weekly appearance on WNYC’s ‘Brian Lehrer Show’. “Unfortunately, FEMA didn’t give the [$36,000] to anyone in our Woodside homes.”
De Blasio had toured the damage along with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens/The Bronx) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, following days of complaints from locals about City Hall’s lackadaisical preparation and sluggish response to the flooding.
The $36,000 referenced by Nieves is the maximum award available for homeowners through the U.S. government’s disaster relief program — but locals, including Nieves, say they’ve received just a fraction of that amount.
“I can’t replace the water heater, a boiler, replace all the walls,” she added. “You were in my basement and saw what happened to my walls! They had to remove everything because of the mildew and the smell was horrific.”
Instead, the retiree said on the radio program that she’s been forced to refinance her home to come up with the $11,000 for her new water heater and boiler — and she still needs to buy a new refrigerator, washer and dryer.
“How does this work for everyone in the community of Woodside, Queens who [was] flooded by Ida,” she concluded plaintively — leaving de Blasio on the defensive and promising the city would intervene.
“Julia, look, we’ve got to get you more help, that’s the bottom line,” Hizzoner said. “I saw the destruction in your basement. It’s clearly a lot of money, we’ve got to get you back on your feet.”
“I’m very disappointed that FEMA is only giving people that small amount of money,” he added. “And, we have other sources of funding as well, including grants.”
City Hall did not immediately respond to questions about what municipal programs would be able to provide assistance to Woodside residents or how locals there could go about applying for additional aid.
– Additional reporting by Julia Marsh