6 Months After Superstorm Sandy, Signs Of Progress But More To Be Done

Thousands Of Residents Remain Displaced As FEMA Money Slowly Trickles In

For many in some of the hardest-hit communities in New York City and Long Island — including New Dorp, Staten Island; Long Beach; the Rockaways; Red Hook; and Breezy Point, the recovery from Sandy has also been slow.

“We certainly have made some headway, we have helped quite a few people but we are really just embarking on a big, big part of the full recovery and there are still some that are suffering quite a bit so we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott.

Grimm added that for the families of the 23 Staten Islanders killed by Sandy, the road has been even longer.

The Staten Island congressman said he is not surprised some residents are still homeless six months later.

“It was surreal. The morning when the storm dissipated, I looked in disbelief and saw entire homes gone, the entire home. Now I know enough to know that you’re not rebuilding a home in six months. If there was no storm and you wanted to build a new home, you’re looking at probably 18 months minimum to build a home from scratch,” Grimm told Scott. “I knew this was going to be a long, difficult process.”

Grimm said his top priority is getting people who are still displaced back into their homes and businesses.

“I would give the president high marks in this. He came to Staten Island, was extremely compassionate, took a lot of time and just his presence uplifted the spirits of so many,” Grimm said of President Barack Obama’s response to the storm.

Residents across the five boroughs vented their frustrations six months later.

“I’ve watched the tears and I’ve watched the anger and the tears again and the frustration and six months later, I’m still serving food. That alone should say something,” said Donna Graziano, coordinator of Cedar Beach Community Hub, which serves as a relief center for displaced residents in New Dorp.

Some residents gathered on the steps of City Hall on Monday to protest the conditions. As 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reported, Alison Pugliese has been living in a motel on Staten Island ever since the storm, struggling to survive. She is waiting for her home to be rid of mold.

“Transportation, medication, food, all those things I was pleading for on the phone. That shouldn’t happen here. This is New York City. Why is this happening? Why would we put people out on the street? I can’t fathom this,” she said.

Pugliese said it is time for the Bloomberg administration to take another look at the situation on Staten Island and other affected places.

“I want them to do a new tour; see what’s going on. I want them to look at these houses that are abandoned. The furniture is still in them. They’re covered with mold. Nothing’s being done about it. That will get into the air,” she said. “We have children. I meet them. These children have asthma attacks. They’re living in homes, a lot of people, that they shouldn’t be living in.”

Across New York State, the storm damaged 27,000 homes and destroyed 454 others. More than 250 families are still living in hotel rooms across the state, paid for by FEMA, while others are still shacking up with relatives or living in temporary rentals.

“Some families and some lives have come back together quickly and well, and some people are up and running almost as if nothing ever happened, and for them it’s been fine,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday. “Some people are still very much in the midst of recovery. You still have people in hotel rooms, you still have people doubled up, you still have people fighting with insurance companies, and for them it’s been terrible and horrendous.”

Cuomo announced Monday that in total, New York State has provided $47,274,759 to New York City for reimbursement costs associated with Sandy.

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