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Sandy, 6 months later: One local lawmaker’s time in the trenches

Posted: 11:30 PM, Apr 29, 2013
Updated: 2013-05-01 11:06:36-04

NEW DORP, Staten Island (PIX11) – For six months straight, the waiting has been the hardest part for those storm victims still struggling in Sandy’s aftermath.

“We’re waiting another week, another week, another week and before you know it, its been 6 months down the line and we still haven’t had the federal funds trickle down to the city level just yet,” said Nicole Malliotakis, the State Assemblywoman who represents the hardest hit neighborhoods.

With only a couple of years experience in the New York State Assembly, Malliotakis has learned a life lesson on bureaucracy, thanks to Superstorm Sandy.

As far as politicians go, this is one who has been truly out in the trenches.

She says a sculpture in place of the New Dorp beach home where President Obama once stood in front of promising federal help sums up the storm’s aftermath.

“Look i’m a government official and I bang my head against the wall sometimes thinking about the process, and why its taking so long and not being able to get the answers.  you know the red tape we’re going through even to answer simple questions regarding insurance.  I can only imagine what its like for homeowners who doesn’t know where they are going to be living next month, next year, will they stay on Staten Island?”

She says many of the people she represents have maxed out their credit cards and started to dip into their retirement savings just to survive.

“We don’t get this money out to people soon, we’re going to see more people heading into foreclosure.”

Now that the feds have approved New York’s State and City action plans, the money should start to flow freely, by way of grants and program payouts.

“Further down the block there’s about 12 houses that were just lifted off their foundations and moved into the marsh.  Nothing left but the foundations of their homes.  It just hit me like a rock,” remembers Malliotakis shaking her head.

We walked down Kissam Avenue in oakwood beach, an area Governor Cuomo already designated eligible for the state buyout program. This means homeowners there can sell their house to the state at pre-storm value.  the land would then remain open green space.

Looking around the neighborhood you can see yellow notices, red notices tagged on front doors but people are still trying to live inside the homes.

“People are constantly trying to fix their homes to best of their ability to make it livable while they wait to see whether they will participate in the buyout program or whether they are going to have to raise their homes to meet the new FEMA standards.  All those questions are still out there and that’s what making it most difficult for people to really move on,” said Malliotakis.

Malliotakis says beyond Oakwood Beach, several other neighborhoods, like South Beach, Midland Beach, New Dorp beach should all “absolutely” be able to participate in the state buyout program.

She says nearly 200 residents in those other neighborhoods have called her office wanting to get in on the buyout program.

Joseph morrisey  is one of those eligible homeowners eligible and its easy to understand why. His Oakwood beach house was ripped from its foundation and tossed into the nearby marsh.

Since then, the associate church pastor, his wife and two young kids were essentially homeless.

That is until just last week when they finally moved into a new home.

When asked if he is satisfied with the progress of rebuilding in the aftermath of the storm, Morrissey said, “yeah, actually i’m pretty happy where everything is.  i’m not one of those people who demands government fix all my problems.  The government didn’t do this to us.  It was an act of nature and God’s hand was a big part of it.

“It’s nice to see the government, hopefully coming through with the buyout which is helping us emotionally and internally get through each day.”