Nearly 11 months after Hurricane Sandy destroyed their home, a Staten Island family is finally moving back and credits a leap of faith decision to apply for a grant from the National Builders Association for making it possible. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
A statute of the blessed mother sits outside 171 Roma Avenue. It is the only thing Jodie Prestivino says was left of her home after Hurricane Sandy.
"I think it was just shock," Prestivino said. "You don't know what to say or do. You're just walking around and looking at what's destroyed.
Nearly everything was destroyed in the house Jodie's husband Bob has lived in his entire life. Water filled the basement and all their belongings were tossed around. So when the couple returned to see their newly rebuilt home, emotions were high.
The Prestivinos were mistakenly told they had flood insurance, but their coverage request was denied, and because they declined a small business loan, they were disqualified from other grants, leaving them with no hope for finding any money to make the necessary repairs to their home.
They began to think they'd never move back to their beach-side neighborhood until they got a call telling them they'd been awarded a grant from the National Home Builders Association.
"I didn't know what to say. I started crying," Prestivino said. "I was on the sidewalk with the phone call, and I started bawling like a child. And I said, 'Thank you God, we have an answer to our prayer.' I said, 'Babe, we're going to go home.'"
The $57,000 grant was used to rebuild the house from the bottom up.
The Prestivinos didn't say how they'd like their new home to look. They left the details to builder Mike Fazio.
"We lined up people to do the work, different trades," Fazio said. "A lot of them did it for cost, less than cost. A lot of labor was volunteered. Project management time was volunteered. Everybody really pitched in."
When the Prestivinos move back into their home later this week, they'll be the latest residents to return to the community in a neighborhood that's slowly but surely recovering from the storm.