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Glacial pace of recovery in Rockaways frustrates residents

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Crews brought in construction equipment and put up a fence Monday in Rockaway Beach. Even that is considered a major sign of progress to many people here, but even so completion of the new boardwalk is years away. It could take just as long for all of the damaged homes to finally get repaired.

John Cori of the group Friends of Rockaway Beach criticized the delays and called the rebuilding process an "abomination." He pointed out that Long Beach, Long Island, got its boardwalk rebuilt almost a year ago.

The New York City Parks Department, which is in charge of the project, has rebuilt comfort stations and lifeguard stands. But a spokesperson said that because the entire boardwalk is being rebuilt, as opposed to repaired, it is taking longer. The Department has also gone through the process of approving the design and implementation of the plan with the local community.

Word that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development could redistribute remaining Sandy funds to other states recently impacted by natural disasters is concerning to Cori and other Sandy victims.

"We need help here," Cori said. "For example, my house is still in shambles, and I'm waiting for Build-It-Back."

A few blocks from the beach, David Lonergan gave up on the Build-It-Back program.

"It's been very frustrating," he said. "The city has been nonexistent on our block as far as I can see."

Lonergan is finally having his home rebuilt thanks to the nonprofit Friends of Rockaway, which has worked on 50 houses in the Rockaways. Whereas Build-It-Back has done a total of nine citywide.

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to overhaul the program and speed up work on homes.

But Todd Miner, the director of Friends of Rockaway, said he estimates it could be as long as five years before the area is back to normal.

"Right now we have about 150 people on our waiting list alone," he said. "In terms of the numbers that I've heard from Build-It-Back, there are over 11,000 people that have applied for some sort of rebuilding services in Rockaway and Broad Channel alone."

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