Staten Island, NY– “Most of the folks I met here, have been here, 20, 30, 50 years. They don’t want to see their community uprooted. But there’s got to be a plan for rebuilding,” said President Barack Obama while speaking in the hard hit New Dorp Beach neighborhood of Staten Island.
Obama’s words ring true for families like the McGraths, who lost nearly everything in the storm.
“It is the worst thing I’ve ever been through and I’ve been through some hard times,” said Deidre McGrath of New Dorp Beach.
Three weeks later, she and her husband Scott stand in what’s left of their Roma Avenue home, with renewed hope since the President came to town.
“I’m a Republican, so I didn’t vote for him, but after this, it’s a possibility that I would vote for him, because of how he talked, listened and how he showed he cared,” said Scott McGrath, who was one of the few who got a chance to speak one-on-one with the President.
“I told him about our situation, how we had 11 feet of water in our home; how our insurance company hasn’t come through for us for our home; neither has our flood insurance. I told him how FEMA has not done what it’s suppose to do. So, he gave me the numbers of two guys and said he would do what he could to move my process along faster.”
Despite their daily struggle, this husband and wife realize it still could have been worse. They know that 23 people died during the storm, including the young Moore brothers who were swept away by the surge.
The President met with the boys parents during his trip on Thursday.
“I expressed to them, as a father, parent, my heartbreak of what they went thru. They are still shell-shocked,” said Obama.
So many Staten Islanders are still shell-shocked. Insurance has not come through yet for the McGraths. While they say they just got FEMA money for rental assistance, they have not found a place that will allow their dog Brownie.
Meanwhile, Obama acknowledged that parts of Staten Island are still very much in the beginning stages of recovery. He said he recognizes that people still need emergency help since they don’t have heat, power or a place to live.
The President promised the Feds would do what they could to help and he also promised to come back to NYC and make sure his people are delivering on that promise to help those in need in all five boroughs.