Coney Island

Treyger wants task force to focus on Sandy recovery at churches

January 8, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember Mark Treyger is chairman of the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency. Photo courtesy Treyger’s office
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Councilmember Mark Treyger is pushing hard for the creation of a special city task force to study the damage that houses of worship and charitable organizations suffered during Hurricane Sandy and the expenses they incurred while helping victims during and after the 2012 storm.

Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), chairman of the council’s Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, and held a public hearing on his task force proposal in mid-December.

The councilmember is now working with the de Blasio Administration to hammer out details of how the task force would operate, according to a spokesman, who told the Brooklyn Eagle that the lawmaker expects the proposal to move forward for a vote by the full council at some point in the next few months.

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Under Treyger’s plan, the task force’s responsibilities would include studying the aid that is available to assist religious institutions and charities.

The task force would have 11 members, including clergy members, individuals experienced with Sandy relief work and the director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency.

Treyger said he proposed creating a task force after hearing from numerous clergy members whose congregations provided critical help after the storm hit. The clergy members told Treyger that they are still struggling to rebuild their own buildings two years after the hurricane and are hampered by restrictions on religious organizations receiving federal relief money.

Parts of Treyger’s council district, particularly Coney Island, sustained heavy damage in Superstorm Sandy.

“These houses of worship did not ask storm victims what religion they are; they simply opened their doors and provided critical services to all residents. In many cases, congregations focused on helping others despite having sustained incredible damaged themselves, and are now still waiting for help two years later,” Treyger said in a statement. “We must do more as a city to help them rebuild and to prepare for the next major storm so they are in position to again play an integral role in the recovery of impacted neighborhoods.”

The task force would also be mandated to issue a report to the mayor and the council with recommendations on how the city should better utilize charitable organizations and houses of worship in future storms.

Daniel Zarrilli, director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, indicated during the hearing that the administration would work cooperatively on this task force if the legislation passes the City Council.

A number of community and non-profit organizations testified in support of the proposal, including The Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC, Catholic Community Relations Council, Center for NYC Neighborhoods, Staten Island Interfaith and Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach.


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