Staten Islander Donna Solli gave voice to what many residents were feeling in the days after the skies cleared and the ocean receded and now, a year later, she is looking back at what's been done and what still needs attention. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
It was an impassioned plea for help - just days after Hurricane Sandy left her New Dorp Beach neighborhood in shambles. Resident Donna Solli says an exchange between herself and Senator Charles Schumer brought national attention to just how bad the storm was for those living on Staten Island's east shore.
"There was no response from the officials at all: The mayor, the anything, the government. I thought that I really thought we'd be air lifted and helicopters would come. And we saw nothing. For four days this went on," Solli recalled.
Government help did come but Solli says it really wasn't enough. Instead, she credits friends, family and the kindness of volunteers for getting her community back on its feet.
Her own home was badly damaged when water flooded her basement and first floor.
She lost her car and all of her clothes, and she says, a bit of her ability to process what happened.
"I was numb. It probably was something out of a movie. I never thought I'd ever live through that," Solli said.
But in the last year, things have improved. Solli's home has largely been rebuilt, though she spent most of her retirement savings to make that happen.
The majority of residents on Neptune Street have returned to their homes and, Solli says, more than worrying about the threat of a future storm, residents are concerned about the high number of vacancies in the surrounding streets and what that could mean for their community.
"When you have a large piece of land next to you that's not yours, and it's vacant, and rats and rodents, and also criminal activities will go on. It becomes a dangerous way of living," Solli said.
Still, Solli says she's never thought of leaving. Her home is now decorated for Halloween as a gift to the trick-or-treaters who missed it last year because of the storm. And she says she's looking forward to putting Hurricane Sandy behind her.