October 28th marks the one year anniversary of Super Storm Sandy. Anniversary however, seems an ill-fitting word. The storm took countless lives, destroyed hundreds of homes, and left Staten Islander’s in a state of bewilderment. Those painful truths cannot be forgotten, but in the midst of all chaos there is one thing worth celebrating- the resilience of Staten Islanders and how we’ve bounced back. We refused to give up in spite of the daunting challenges we faced. It is precisely that determination and sense of community that has helped to restore our shores to their former glory. While there is still much work to be done, we can’t let that diminish how much progress we’ve made this past year. Here’s a look at what we can look forward to, and where to turn if you’re still in need of assistance.
Where to Turn:
FEMA has extended the deadline for flood insurance claims. Victims of Hurricane Sandy will have an additional six months to file their claims. The extension was granted after Senators Schumer and Gillibrand lobbied FEMA administrator Craig Fugate for an extension. As Schumer said: “A six month extension will help ensure that families aren’t denied the insurance money they deserved because of missing paperwork they didn’t know they needed to file.”
In addition to the FEMA extension, the “Build It Back” program deadline has also been extended. Build It Back is a program that will administer federal Community Development Block Grants, loans are not included. After you register, a recovery specialist will collect additional information from each applicant and homes will be assessed. The specialist will consider how much aid has already been received, and how much more is needed for repairs/rebuilding. Houses being rebuilt will be brought up to code, including new flood elevations. For those who want to sell their homes, the city will buy certain properties at post-storm value through the program. If you have already paid out of pocket, Build It Back will reimburse you, but only after those without stable housing are returned. Wondering if you are eligible? Anyone whose home was damaged by Hurricane Sandy can register; those with the highest financial need will receive aid first.
What to Look Forward To:
In the more recent future, The New York Road Runners are hosting a half marathon and daily of family fun at Richmond County Ball Park to celebrate the resilience of a post-Sandy Staten Island. After the race, food and festivities will be provided in and around the ballpark. The proceeds from the event will be donated to The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation as well as ECHO (Emergency Children's Help Organization), two charities that have been a godsend in the turbulent times after the storm.
Summer 2014 will bring a brand new “Splaza”, a children’s park and splash plaza to Midland Beach. Hurricane Sandy temporarily derailed the project as the mechanical system needed to be redesigned. When it's completed, the Children's Park and Splaza will feature water sprays, fountains, and small children's rides.