Michael Barretto, right, whose home was flooded and damaged in Sandy, applies for assistance at an NYC Restore location in Far Rockaway.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched seven new "restoration centers" Tuesday that he says will offer one-stop help to New Yorkers recovering from Sandy, with everything from supplies to long-term services.
"The task before us is massive," the mayor said at a news conference in Queens' hard-hit Rockaways.
Speaking in a storefront space that houses one of the centers, he said getting back to normal for people whose homes were wrecked could take months.
About 1,000 residents of six public housing buildings still lack power, heat and hot water two weeks after the storm's onslaught.
The NYC Restore centers are opening immediately in Far Rockaway, Staten Island, and Brooklyn's Coney Island and Gravesend neighborhoods. Three others will open this week in Brooklyn's Red Hook, Queens' Breezy Point and Throgs Neck-Pelham Bay in the Bronx.
They'll operate seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Besides filling the need for basic supplies such as food, water and clothes, the drop-in locations will offer assistance getting food stamps and Medicaid, as well as applications for small business loans and funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal and local agencies.
Homeowners will get advice on hiring contractors for repairs. And they'll get information on temporary housing, health and medical benefits, counseling, and personal records.
The centers "will be an invaluable resource for the New Yorkers most impacted by the storm — and for the communities hit hardest," Bloomberg said.
Partnering with the mayor's initiative are a group of nonprofit community-based organizations that include the Red Hook Initiative and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
Commenting on the public housing still lacking power — three in Red Hook, three in Coney Island — the mayor said utility workers are "doing it as fast as they can."
He said the buildings will be connected to the electrical grid within the next few days.
Overall, the mayor said, "things seem to be getting better."
He said 60 percent of gas stations are open, compared with only about 25 percent last week.
Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson later said the city has made other efforts to assist those whose lives were disrupted by the storm.
The Department of Sanitation has deployed over 800 trucks and other pieces of equipment to clean up almost 250,000 tons of debris, and the Parks Department and other agencies have cleared thousands of downed trees and fallen limbs, according to Wolfson.
And the city has helped distribute 2 million meals, more than 600,000 bottles of water, and more than 160,000 blankets at city-run sites.