MINEOLA - Long Islanders gathered outside of the Nassau Legislative building in Mineola today to draw awareness to the fact that many are still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy a year and a half after the storm.
Many demonstrators voiced frustrations with NY Rising, the program that gives out federal grants to get Sandy victims back on their feet. So far, the program has given out about $200 million of the $880 million that has been allocated. NY Rising officials have promised millions more are coming, and say the process is being slowed by federal red tape.
"It's trickling out too slowly and every day that they wait there's another person who loses their home to foreclosure," says Michelle Mittleman, a protester. She formed a group called Victims Fighting FEMA after she was displaced by the storm, and is using social media and other means to spread the word that some Sandy survivors aren't getting the help they need.
Among those victims is Debbie Gialanze, who was given an award of $95,000 from NY Rising to rebuild her Long Beach home. She says the problem is that her home has to be 9 feet high to be FEMA-compliant, and she says the money is not enough to make those changes. "The money that NY Rising would like to give us," Gialanze says, "you can't even build a shed for that amount."
Many others say they have yet to be offered anything.
In the meantime, NY Rising has announced it will extend mortgage and rental assistance for the next 18 months.