Queens Clergy Unite For Sandy Aid
By Megan Montalvo
After months of pleading with the Bloomberg administration to help address issues with mold caused by Superstorm Sandy, the Queens Congregations United for Action are breathing a collective sigh of relief in light of the Mayor’s recent mold treatment announcement.
On Jan. 31, Joseph McKellar of QCUA released a statement that coincided with the date of Bloomberg’s public address, which read, “This program is a positive step towards addressing an urgent problem, and an indication that Mayor Bloomberg is starting to take the mold crisis seriously. However, based on what we’ve heard in communities hardest hit by Sandy, 2,000 homes is only a start.”
According to McKellar, families in Queens congregations and communities have been struggling with mold infestations for nearly 100 days.
While the group of interfaith clergy remains cautiously optimistic about the Mayor’s Fund sponsorship of a $15 million remediation program that will be administered by Neighborhood Revitalization NYC, McKellar stressed that considering “there are as much as 80,000 homes with water damage in New York City as a result of Sandy, it’s going to be important to significantly expand this program based on the extent of the serious threat mold presents to the health and safety of many Sandy victims.”
Among concerns over the spreading of “The Rockaway Cough,” the QCUA held a rally at City Hall in mid-December, calling for Mayor Bloomberg to fix the Rapid Repairs program and include mold remediation and the restoration of power by December 31.
Though power has yet to be restored fully to large number of Queens homes, McKellar said that the QCUA will continue to further their attempts to meet with Bloomberg.
To date, the organization has delivered petitions to City Hall signed by more than 2,000 New Yorkers who support their request for more government assistance in addition to creating the “Back Home, Back to Work” mold remediation program, which would have the capacity to clean up the mold epidemic at scale. If fully resourced, McKellar says the program will be able to launch immediately.
“We look forward to having the opportunity to sit down with the inner sanctum of the Mayor’s office hopefully within the coming weeks,” McKellar said. “While we recognize that so many people have been affected, the important thing to remember is that as volunteers, we can only do so much. We need help - professional help.”
Reach Reporter Megan Montalvo at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.