House approves Sandy relief bill as frustrated New York storm victims descend on D.C.

Posted at 7:05 PM, Jan 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-15 19:59:48-05

STATEN ISLAND, NY (PIX11) –The House of Representatives voted in favor of the $50.7 billion Sandy aid package Tuesday, more than 10 weeks after the superstorm devastated New York and New Jersey.

After weeks of delays and pressure from conservatives to trim the bill, it passed by a vote of 241-180.  The bill now moves to the Senate for a vote that will likely happen next Tuesday.

It is good news for residents of New Dorp, Staten Island, one of the places that was hit hardest by superstorm Sandy.

‘”The sound of music is to hear water running,” said Scott McGrath, 44, as he flushed the new toilet of his New Dorp Beach home.

For the first time since Sandy, McGrath has his bathroom back, sort of.  His first floor is still just a shell.

He is one of many still struggling in Superstorm Sandy’s aftermath and he says he is sick and tired of the government’s empty promises to help.

“I was promised before by FEMA, by my insurance company, by the man who runs this country, that things were going to change. I don’t want to see promises no more, I want action,” McGrath said.

That action happened in two parts on Tuesday as Congress voted on a Sandy relief package.

The first was a vote on roughly $17 billion in immediate relief  — including money to repair the New York and New Jersey transit systems, along with more funds for FEMA.  That measure passed 327-91.


Sandy victims from Long Island on the steps of Capitol Hill Tuesday

The second was the nearly $34 billion in additional relief that was approved this afternoon.  Many in congress protested the dozen amendments added to this supposed Sandy relief bill that includes funding projects and cutting projects that have nothing to do with helping storm victims.

That same contention in Congress also led storm victims like one busload of Long Islanders, to drive straight to DC to rally in front on the Capitol steps to break up the gridlock.

Even the youngest of the storm victims, 12-year-old John Bryne, knew politics was getting in the way of aid for his Sandy-ravaged neighborhood of Island Park.

“We need this funding because we need to rebuild.  We just have to stop this political shananigans,” said Byrne.

The group walked up the steps and rallied silently before meeting with Congressmen Peter King and Michael Grimm.

They sent video exclusively to PIX 11,  just as before they entered the House Gallery to watch the debate.

Back on Staten Island, McGrath hopes the vote will change his life for the better.

“Come here with your crew, sheetrock my house, lay the floors down, get my appliances. I would do it tomorrow in a heartbeat if I knew I was getting the money,” said McGrath.