Not much is left of the three-bedroom house on Staten Island that Walter and Elsa Griswold moved into 47 years ago Tuesday. One year ago, Hurricane Sandy plowed fence posts from the park across the street through their home knocking it off its foundation. It had to be torn down.
Walter, a Korean War veteran, got insurance money but not enough to build a new home. Now living in their daughter's basement, the Griswolds hope to move upstate. Because they got insurance money they got little from FEMA.
"The reality is that the vast majority of people in these areas have not received build it back funds yet," said Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y.
Low-lying hard hit areas of Staten Island such as New Dorp Beach and Cedar Grove have many abandoned houses. Repairs are still ongoing for gas and electricity lines. A lot on Father Capodanno Boulevard where two young children were swept away from their mother's arms and drowned is now overgrown with weeds.
But some people are still fighting. Donna Graziano of Cedar Grove Angels is now repairing Sandy-damaged houses for free, putting up Sheetrock and insulation donated by Home Depot. She had set up a tent community center but six months ago the city ordered it taken down. Donna has run out of money and is looking for paid work unless she can set up a permanent center that she said Staten Islanders need to cope with the stress of building back.
Much work has been done by the city's Rapid Repairs program. And the boardwalk and beaches are restored. Midland Beach, under water a year ago, now has bathrooms on stilts. But they are not yet functioning.
A resident there said he and his neighbors have asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration to buy their homes. That is request is pending.