Updated 01/19/2013 03:03 PM
Volunteers Go House-To-House On SI To Get Sense Of Post-Sandy Rebuilding Needs
Volunteers went house-to-house Saturday on Staten Island to get a sense of what residents need to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.
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Behind each door of a home hit by Hurricane Sandy, there's a story of uprooted lives and the heartache of recovering from a catastrophe.
"It's messed up," said Vlad Pipko, whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. "But I'm kind of used to bad stuff happening, so I just deal with it and roll with the punches."
Two-and-a-half months after Hurricane Sandy, the Staten Island Interfaith Disaster Response Network is surveying people to find out what they still need and the challenges they're facing.
"Hopefully, we can substantiate what the most significant areas of needs are so that when money comes down from wherever money comes from, it can be directed to those needs, and that we can set up the services and redirect volunteers to where help is needed," said Rev. Terry Troia of the Staten Island Interfaith Disaster Response Network.
More than 200 volunteers rang bells and knocked on doors from South Beach to Tottenville. People didn't exactly roll out the welcome mat, but Staten Islanders and volunteers Sarah and John Scamardella understood why.
"People have a tendency, they don't want to accept help," John Scamardella said. "They're proud people, they're hard-working people, and they just want to get through the crisis."
"After every question, I want to stop and ask, 'Are you OK? What was damaged?'" Sarah Scamardella said. "I want to give them the time to talk."
Progress for each house is as distinct as the people who live in it. Pipko said since the new year began, the pace of rebuilding his house has sped up, and he can finally see a move-in date.
"In the past week, it was crazy progress," he said. "Within a month, it'll be painted with all furniture in there. It's like nothing ever happened."
Pipko said volunteers have pitched in to help when asked, but NY1 is hearing that the enthusiasm for volunteering has tapered off. Still, these volunteers will continue reaching out to people at community centers, houses of worship and relief organizations to try to get the best on-the-ground assessment of where things stand.