In the south shore Village of Lindenhurst, one of the hardest-hit areas from Superstorm Sandy, residents were finally lifting themselves up from the rubble Friday, tossing away debris and trying their best to put the storm behind them. Many echoed the same message: it’s time to rebuild.
Officials toured the devastated area and announced that the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers is getting $10 million to help with debris removal in the village, where Sandy left dozens of homes uninhabitable. Household items were strewn across lawns, streets were blanketed with dirt and debris, and National Guard humvees were patrolling the neighborhood.
“This is my life, I have nothing,” said Joan Ensulo, pointing to her house from across the street. “I have absolutely nothing.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the federal aid will “really help speed up the restoration of electric power back to New York.” More than 500,000 Long Island Power Authority customers were still blacked out as of sundown Friday.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also set up a station at Bower Elementary School to help residents looking for federal aid to help rebuild their homes.
“When we met with the families here on Long Island we can tell you there whole lives have been turned upside down,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said. “All their belongings are on their front lawns, their whole ground floors have been destroyed, and for a lot of the families this isn’t the first time.”
But residents, some who can’t even step foot into their homes because of water damage and a strong smell of oil, said they were making the best of a bad situation.
Pat McAllister, 55, said she’s not living at home because her house was hit hard by Sandy, but she walked over to a friend’s house on Atlantic Avenue to help clean up.
“Everyone really is pitching in as much as they can because the next person has it a little worse than you do,” she said.
Cleaning out the garage with his wife was 68-year-old Nicholas Piscitelli, who said four feet of water was in his garage and kitchen. New appliances that he bought earlier this year after Tropical Storm Irene are now destroyed, he said.
“You just do it,” he said of the cleanup. “We keep a positive attitude.”
Flood water streamed into his house from the street and the canal behind him.
“A lot of people are really hurting,” said Dwight Jones, of Amitvyille, who was helping repair a friend’s home in Lindenhurst. “There’s a lot of people that are down right now but they’re in good spirit…the community is coming together and everybody is trying to help everybody.”
Despite the tragic circumstances that fell on them, several kids still found the time to kick around a muddied soccer ball in the middle of the street. Many residents were just happy to see new faces around the neighborhood so they don’t feel deserted.
“Seeing what these families are going through but also seeing their resilience and courage is just so reassuring,” Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said after touring the ravaged area. “How you have your life’s possessions on the front lawn and [can] still be smiling is beyond me.”