By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Bellevue Hospital Center will get a $376 million slice of federal money to cover the cost of putting right damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced last Thursday that the city has secured $1.6 billion in federal aid from FEMA to repair the city’s public hospitals damaged during Hurricane Sandy two years ago.
With its share of the cash, Bellevue will install flood-proof elevators, storm pumps and a flood wall.
“The entire New York Congressional Delegation came together to fight for these funds, and wisely sought resources not just for repairs, but also for mitigation,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, in whose district the hospital is located.
“Bellevue is an important facility and it sustained substantial damage and had to be evacuated during Hurricane Sandy. We are taking the necessary steps to be sure that doesn’t happen again.”
According to Bellevue authorities, much of the damage caused by the 2012 superstorm has already been repaired and the fresh FEMA funds will reimburse HHC for those repairs and mitigation work.
Many pieces of critical equipment, such as electrical switching gear, have been relocated out of the basement to higher elevation on the first floor and the hospital has installed removable flood barriers at the two loading dock entrances facing the East River.
The recent FEMA allocation will finance new flood-proof elevators for the hospital’s main tower and new storm and sanitary drainage pumps, as well as a new 2,350 ft. flood wall to protect critical parts of the campus.
Bellevue was evacuated for the first time in its history on October 31, 2012 after its basement was flooded by millions of gallons of water and equipment critical to running the hospital was damaged.
Primary care clinics, walk-in urgent care and outpatient pharmacy services re-opened on November 19 and the emergency department partially re-opened in December, but it wasn’t until February 2013 that the hospital center fully restored all services.
Congresswoman Maloney commended the new funding that she said will make sure the hospital remains functional in the event of a similar emergency.
The $1.6 billion funding package was the second largest FEMA award ever and the largest award for the Agency’s 428 Recovery Program.
As well as reimbursement for repairs from damage caused by the hurricane and improvements at Bellevue, the money will go to the three other HHC facilities — Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, Metropolitan Hospital Center in Manhattan, and Coler Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island. The cash is in addition to the $142 million that HHC previously received from FEMA for partial repairs, temporary flood barriers and emergency stabilization measures.
“Few services are as critical as our hospitals during extreme weather. This unprecedented investment will make four key public hospitals much more resilient next time they need to be,” Mayor de Blasio said.
“Thanks to FEMA’s $1.6 billion commitment, we’re taking a major step forward in advancing our comprehensive resiliency plan and ensuring that doctors, nurses, and health care workers will be able to do what they do best—serve their patients.”