Prayer vigil held to rally for Sandy victims whose homes are in disrepair


| mhayes@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes
THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Jean Ferrara-Rodriquez and her daughter have been living in a damaged home in West Hamilton Beach since February.

Jean Ferrara-Rodriquez is living in a construction zone 14 months after the superstorm destroyed her West Hamilton Beach home.

“We are struggling from day to day,” said the single mother of a 14-year-old girl. “It’s been way too long of a process and way too slow.”

Faith in New York, a city-based, interfaith federation, hosted a prayer vigil outside Ferrara-Rodriquez’s home on Wednesday to rally for Sandy victims still suffering from the superstorm and call upon Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and the new administration to make recovery a top priority.

De Blasio has spoken publicly about his vision to rebuild resilient communities and strengthen the city’s infrastructure following Sandy’s impact.

The floor, walls and windows of Ferrara-Rodriquez’s ground floor were replaced after Sandy, but a draft from the cold outside air can be felt close to the walls, and the windows offer little insulation, she said.

Repairs have been going on since February, but the 14-year West Hamilton Beach resident has a long road ahead. The floor and walls are still bare, wires and nails are visible and she has no appliances. Food and other items are dispersed throughout the first floor, and her refrigerated items are kept close to the wall so they can be kept cool by the draft.

She applied to Build it Back in August but said she has yet to hear anything from the city’s storm recovery program.

“It’s been two holiday seasons,” she said. “I’m just asking where are the funds we were promised, and why has it taken so long.”

Ferrara-Rodriquez evacuated her 164th Road home before the storm and moved from friends’ houses to a homeless shelter and finally to the Comfort Inn on Cross Bay Boulevard where she lived for 93 days.

She moved back to her damaged home in February, where she and her daughter lived on the second floor without heat. She said Rapid Repairs, the government-sponsored program to give storm victims immediate assistance, installed a boiler, which froze over and broke. The heat was fixed this season for the colder weather.

“We have lived in devastation, isolation and [have] seemingly been forgotten in this slow process of recovery,” said Father Fulgencio Gutierrez of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea parish in Far Rockaway at Wednesday’s vigil. “Our communities cannot wait another year.”

 

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