Tempers flared Thursday on Staten Island at a town hall meeting intended to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy, as residents say it did little to address their concerns, and with no second meeting scheduled in the future, it’s unclear if they’ll get another chance to make their voices heard. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
They lost their homes, their businesses and finally, their patience.
The hundreds who packed New Dorp High School hoping for answers about how they can get some help in the wake of Hurricane Sandy said the meeting was a waste of time.
"Questions aren't being answered and it's pass the buck," said resident Jodi Hannula. "That's exactly what it is."
"We thought some of our answers were gonna be, you know," said resident Elaine Pensavalle. "It's frustrating."
More than 1,500 people turned out for the town hall meeting, which was meant to give residents a chance to speak with Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives, city agencies and local leaders about their concerns as they struggle to recover from the storm. But tempers quickly flared when people were turned away, and a lack of answers only led to more frustration.
The format of the meeting was another source of tension. Originally, residents were asked to fill out comment cards to be read aloud rather than ask questions themselves.
"Here's what you're gonna do," said Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro at one point of the meeting. "You're going to line up on both sides. People that want to ask a question, we're going to give you a mic."
The change in format gave residents a small chance to vent.
"It's time to fight for the people and get what we want," said one resident who spoke. "We want a place called home and we want to be somewhere for the damned holidays, not in somebody else's house or some hotel or some shelter."
Throughout the meeting, officials begged residents for patience, saying they are aware of the many issues and concerns they're facing. They also reminded residents the recovery will be slow going.