More than four months after Hurricane Sandy, a Staten Island couple whose house sustained serious damage from the storm is still waiting for financial assistance to make repairs, and they say the city is responsible for the hold-up. NY1's Susan Jhun filed the following NY1 For You report.
Time is running out for homeowners Dominique Sweeney and her husband, who need assistance for major repairs to their house in the New Dorp Beach section of Staten Island, which was literally torn apart by Hurricane Sandy.
"It threw my whole life inside-out, upside-down," says Sweeney. "There's red signs on the front of the house that say, 'Do not enter, unsafe.' I called the city, the city says I need an architect to come in and clear the house, and I can't do that because that runs into thousands of dollars and FEMA's refusing help."
It's a dilemma NY1 first reported on in December. The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied assistance to the uninsured couple, stating that occupancy could not be verified since the Sweeneys were temporarily moved out of their house while renovations were being made, when Sandy struck.
Confusing matters, Sweeney says the city boarded up her house without notice or reason months before the hurricane. The homeowners were trying to figure out why, when the storm ravaged their home along with all their belongings.
"I have all my papers that I do live there, pay the taxes, every year on it. It's like a domino effect. If you don't get help from FEMA, the city can't come in and help with temporary repairs. Nobody can do nothing," says Sweeney.
NY1 first called the Department of Buildings to find out why the Sweeneys' home was boarded up and a spokeswoman said the agency responded to complaints that the house was abandoned.
The station also called FEMA and a spokesperson said the agency was looking into Sweeney's case but could not comment because of privacy issues.
Now, three months later, the situation has not changed at all for the Sweeneys, and with the March 29 deadline for FEMA assistance looming, the couple is desperate for help.
NY1 has called DOB again and is waiting to hear back from the agency. In the meantime, the Sweeneys' temporary housing situation is coming to an end, leaving them with nowhere to go.
NY1 For You will continue to follow this situation.