Staten Island Sandy Victims Charged for Water in Vacant Homes

The bills have been as high as $500

Staten Island residents whose homes were damaged by superstorm Sandy say the city is charging them hundreds of dollars for water they haven't used since the storm.

Some of the bills in the hard-hit New York City borough have been as high as $500, which Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) calls ridiculous.

"That's $500 these people could use to replace a washer or dryer or refrigerator swept out to sea during Sandy," Grimm said at a press conference Saturday.

The Department of Environmental Protection sent a letter to residents saying they were subject to a minimum charge of $1.19 a day even if they weren't using water in their homes.

Stephanie Argento received a bill for her South Beach house, where she hasn't even been living.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing, $320 for water," she said. "That's money I could put to my rent."

Grimm said he has contacted the DEP and asked the agency to waive the charges but has yet to hear back.

A DEP spokesman told NBC 4 New York that the agency suspended billing and interest last November for more than 9,000 homes that were damaged by Sandy, and insisted each account has since been reviewed, with more than half a million dollars in leak forgiveness granted.

The DEP told NBC 4 New York that billing hasn't resumed if a home is uninhabitable. 

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