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Mayor De Blasio Announces $145 Million Plan To Protect Rockaways From Future Storms

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio marked the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy with the announcement of a $145 million project that would protect the Rockaway peninsula from climate change and severe weather.

"Five years later, it's impossible to forget what happened, and it's impossible to let down our guard because we learned this is a fight we'll be fighting for a long time to make our city safe, to make it resilient," he said during the Sunday announcement.

As CBS2's Dave Carlin reported, Rockaway resident Tyler Williams is now 9. He remembers when Sandy roared into his life when he was just 4.

"I still remember the sight of Rockaway during Sandy," Tyler said.

Now five years later, Tyler is in fifth grade -- and said he'll never forget seeing his home, and his street, left in ruins.

"I remember seeing the cars covered with water," Tyler said.

Tyler's father, Edwin Williams, showed CBS2's Carlin a water line three feet up that remains to this day. He said the flooding ruined.

And while repairs were paid for by insurance, Williams now wants Arverne by the Sea and surrounding communities protected.

He took his sons to see de Blasio Sunday as the mayor announced his improvement plans. Tyler raised his hand and walked over.

"Will Rockaway be ready for the next storm?" Tyler asked.

"Yes," de Blasio said. "We're going to keep at it every single day."

When the Mayor was asked why he picked Arverne by the Sea as his only stop of this five-year anniversary of Sandy, he said it is because of the rebuilt boardwalk.

"The boardwalk inspires me because it proved on time and under budget," de Blasio said.

The mayor said $145 million were left over when the five-mile boardwalk was finished, and it gets funneled back in to the Rockaways.

"It was not only a beautiful boardwalk, it was a new resiliency measure," de Blasio said.

Plans for use of the funding include adding flood protections to Bayswater Park with ball fields and other amenities added. There will also be new sea walls, and flood resistant vegetation will be planted.

Some in the community said many projects are still undone after half a decade. That criticism that the process takes too long was not disputed by anyone in the room.

But Daniel Zarrilli, the city's Chief Resilience Officer, said there is progress citywide.

"The upgrades to the power grid; the upgrades to our own water supply system continue to move forward," he said.

With the approval of the Federal Emergency Management Administration approval, the city will be able to move the new projects one step closer to construction. As 1010 WINS' Roger Stern reported, it could take as long as five years for some of these things to get done.

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