- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - Four public hospitals in flood-prone parts of the city are getting at least $1.6 billion in federal money to protect them from the kind of harrowing damage wrought by Superstorm Sandy, officials announced Thursday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency money will create a new, storm-resilient building to house the emergency room and such key equipment as X-ray machines at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, where the 2012 storm inundated the basement and came into the first floor. The water plunged the hospital into darkness and sent staffers scrambling to move patients on stretchers to higher floors before ultimately evacuating.

Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital Center, which also was evacuated after flooding and losing power, is getting money to build a big floodwall and flood-proof elevators, among other improvements. Coler Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island and Metropolitan Hospital Center in Manhattan are getting funding for flood barriers and other modifications.

“This money will allow us to do the kinds of things we know are necessary for resiliency,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. Congress approved $60 billion in Sandy relief in 2013, but specific projects have needed approval from FEMA or other agencies for the money to be dispensed.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer called the funding “a massive shot of adrenaline” for the hospitals’ recovery. It includes $65 million to reimburse repairs already made.

Sandy dealt a heavy blow to several New York hospitals, public and private. Many already have made major changes.

Bellevue moved many electrical and mechanical components to higher floors and expanded its generator power system to reach such areas as MRI and chemotherapy facilities.

NYU Langone Medical Center - which had to be evacuated in the midst of the storm after losing electricity - has expanded its fleet of generators, moved its usual utility-power feed from underground to a higher point, and is looking ahead to finishing its own power plant. The Manhattan hospital also has gotten taller flood barriers.

De Blasio announced last month that Staten Island University Hospital would get $28 million from the city for resiliency measures, including moving electrical equipment higher up and improving the roof.


Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz

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