Struggling Sandy victims sound off in Gerrittsen Beach town hall

Posted at 11:12 PM, Jan 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-24 23:12:14-05

Gerrittsen Beach, Brooklyn (PIX11) – So many frustrated faces, each with a story about the night Sandy slammed into Gerrittsen Beach.

“I had seven feet of water in my basement.  My father lived there and he lost all of his personal belongings,” said Dawn Ernst.

On Ernst’s lap, is a brown leather case filled with Manila file folders labeled: Allstate, FEMA, Rapid Repairs, etc.  She has carried that Sandy file with her everywhere.

“It”s a lot of work like having another job. Making phonecalls, sending faxes, fighting for money we should get,” Ernst said.

Patrick Minze lives 50 yards from the bay.  He says five feet of water filled his first floor so he had to gut his whole home.

“I don’t think people understand what Sandy has done to small pockets of neighborhoods.  I mean, Rockaway, Queens, Staten Isladn, destroyed. But a neighborhoods like Gerrittsen Beach where every house was affected,” said Minze.TownHall

That is why nearly 200 people turned out to a town hall meeting held by State Senator Marty Golden. FEMA tells PIX 11 that 5,800 households have registered for assistance in Gerrittsen Beach and Sheepshead Bay but the agency could not provide how many of those the agency has actually helped.

But clearly, these storm victims are still struggling.  Most of them, like many other Sandy-devastated areas, fighting with FEMA or their insurance companies.

“All I want to do is go back to the way I was living before and its like, ‘Here’s your money go away.’ But that’s not enough to fix my house and I paid you for flood insurance!” said Minze who was so frustrated with his insurance company that he bought the website address:

While many people at the meeting say they are productive, the reality is, many of them still need help, months later.

“Food, supplies, a shoulder to cry on, people need just day-to-day help because it is still hard,” said Minze.

Since this is such a close-knit community, some came together to start a non-profit the day after Sandy to get supplies to the neighborhood, called Gerrittsen Beach Cares.

If you want to help these storm victims directly, go to