Mayor Bill de Blasio finally visited the Queens neighborhood where residents say they were ignored as scores of homes were fouled by disgusting sewage backups — but refused to explain what took him so long.
“Look, the important thing is that the folks who could act on the issue got here and did their work,” de Blasio told reporters after touring a contaminated house in South Ozone Park late Monday afternoon.
“And it’s really important to respect that that work had to be done to secure the situation.”
The mayor added: “I’m here now to let people know that everything they need that we have in our power, we’re going to do for them.”
On Sunday, de Blasio came under withering criticism from furious residents who faulted the city’s response to the crisis after it began unfolding Saturday morning – and his failure to show up and “see this mess.”
Hizzoner acknowledged that “there’s a lot of frustration that calls to 311 went in and the response was not as quick as it could’ve been.”
“It’s not acceptable for anyone to call 311 on something urgent like this and not get help,” he said.
“We’re going to investigate what happened. It cannot happen again.”
Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza, who joined de Blasio in Queens, also admitted that “it took a few hours before someone connected the dots and said, ‘This isn’t a sporadic problem but it’s very concentrated in one area. Something is going on.’ ”
Sapienza said earlier Monday that 74 houses were flooded with sewage when a large pipe backed up at 150th Street near JFK Airport.
De Blasio promised that the city would be “paying for the cleanups and the city will work with each family.”
“If a boiler or a hot water heater has been damaged, if it can be repaired, we’ll pay for those repairs,” he said.
“If we need to get a replacement, we’ll get a replacement.”
Earlier Monday, city Comptroller Scott Stringer said he’d “deemed this an emergency situation” and would “make sure we get the repairs expedited” once claims were filed with his office.
Stringer, who toured a house where the basement was still being pumped out, also said he planned to investigate the DEP’s “response time,” adding, “We’re going to hold the agency accountable.”