It’s been months since Hurricane Sandy hit and although most have returned to their normal lives, for a few Rocklanders, their lives are still on hold.
Mid-February, Regina Seeley of Stony Point stopped by the Rockland FEMA workshop with paperwork for her still-damaged home.
Her home is on River Road, which sits right on the Hudson River so it was one of many along the banks that were condemned due to heavy water damage.
“Sandy came along and for a week I wasn’t allowed in my home,” said Seeley. “I had only two pairs of sweatpants and two pairs of sweatshirts for a week.”
Before Sandy hit, Seeley, her husband, their two dogs and six cats evacuated and stayed with her husband’s mother who had no power loss.
“Stony Point Ambulance Corps had a rescue center. . It was crazy busy with kids and animals. I felt bad for people who stayed there because it must have been hard to sleep. We visited there because they had resources and press conferences.”
When she was allowed to re-enter her home a week after Sandy, “it was a nightmare,” she said. “There was a foot and a half of water on the first floor and the waves pushed all my belongings to the back of the house. Sandy had taken off the porch and the five steps leading up to the front door. The back door, the steps were ripped off there also.”
She added that the only way to get in and out that didn’t require a ladder was her side door.
“It was hard to see the things I loved destroyed and covered in mud. It was a wreck of a home.” Her 2-story family home was built in 1895 and several of the original features, like the front door, were destroyed.
There was no damage to the roof, but siding was gone in many places.
Seeley’s husband had not sold his property in Middletown so they’re currently living there.
She expects it’ll take a year before they can return to her Stony Point home.
“I’d be surprised if I get back in my house in October. Anything that was upstairs (could be salvaged). Most of the clothing was upstairs, the bed, bedroom set, so we could keep all that, but lost all living room furniture, kitchen furniture/cabinets, etc ….”
Seeley said insurance will replace most appliances and that she’s now finally hired a contractor. However, she hit a few snags.
“We went to go get a building permit and found out we had to raise the house two feet. The contractor said when he gets started, it’ll take 2-3 months, but we need to get the house and foundation raised first. No one will get started until spring.”
One of the points that Gov. Andrew Cuomo brought up was that there would be a home buyout option for those who want to sell their homes and move instead of rebuilding every time a storm hits.
“It has crossed my mind but (that initiative) hasn’t gotten to Stony Point yet,” said Seeley, adding that in early February, Stony Point Town Supervisor Geoffrey Finn “was trying to get FEMA funds for exactly that.”
Last year, Seeley was unemployed so when she applied for an SBA loan, she was denied.
However, she returned to February’s FEMA workshop because she got news of her new job.
“I hope I can be reevaluated and get a small loan to cover the difference between what insurance covers and what it takes to get the house back to normal,” she said.
“There’s an entire community of people out there in Stony Point that still don’t have their home and are struggling, all my neighbors, all the people on my street. The few people who are living in their homes had houses that were higher up (from the river). Many people are not in their homes yet and are in the same situation as me and do not know when they can get back into their homes.”
Deadline For Aid
The deadline to register for federal disaster assistance is March 29. Survivors have several ways to register:
- Online at DisasterAssistance.gov.
- Via smartphone or tablet, go to m.fema.gov or download the FEMA app.
- By phone, 800-621-3362 (Voice, 7-1-1/Relay) or (TTY) 800-462-7585.
- The toll-free telephone numbers operate 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST seven days a week until further notice.
- A FEMA Language Assistance Line is available for those who need interpretation services in languages other than English or Spanish. Call: 866-333-1796.
The deadline to return the application for a U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan also is March 29.