Life after Sandy: an RVC hotel room

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Mike, who has construction experience, has been doing much of the work himself, but Gerry said he has to rely on contractors to get his house back to normal. “We’re at the mercy of contractors and subcontractors and all of that,” he said. “We have to really be on top of it and hope that what they’re telling you is the right thing.”

Gerry, who stayed with friends in Malverne for two weeks before moving into the hotel in the second week of November, said that having a place to stay, with electricity and heat, helped bring him out of a “fog” after of the storm.

The length of their hotel stay has worn down their enthusiasm. Gerry said that although he never expected to grow tired of going out for dinner, he wishes he could cook his own meals. The families have also had enough of laundromats, but the hotel only has a single pair of machines, and the dryer has been out of order.

But Gerry, Mike and the rest of the families staying at the Best Western may not be able to stay there much longer, and many do not know where they would go instead. FEMA has extended the Temporary Sheltering Assistance Program three times since it began on Nov. 3, the most recent a two-week extension on Jan. 11. Each time it is extended, Mike said, FEMA does not tell the refugees until the day before the deadline, leading to a great deal of anxiety and worry.

“This experience is the worst thing that anybody can have done to them in a lifetime,” Mike said. “This has taken years off our lives. The stress is, on a scale of one to 100, this is 110.”

There are few other options available to these families. Mike said that most of his family lived in Island Park, and was displaced, just as he was. Going to stay with his family upstate is not an option because he needs to remain near the house.

Gerry said that his situation is similar, and added that renting is not a realistic alternative for most Sandy-displaced homeowners, who have neither the funds nor the furniture. He added that there are not enough apartments for everyone in the market, and that he had heard about bidding wars and exorbitant rates.
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