After being forced out of her house for four months because of Hurricane Sandy, a Staten Island mother of two is finally able to return home, thanks to help from a grassroots relief group. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
For Zina Pasquale, returning to her Hurricane Sandy-damaged home seemed like mission impossible.
But on Saturday, her dreams came true, as she returned to find it move-in ready.
"We are shaking," she said. "We couldn't wait to come here."
And it's just in time. Pasquale and her sons, Anthony and Jonathan, who has Down syndrome, must be out of their temporary housing at a retreat house on the campus of Jonathan's school by Wednesday.
Their New Dorp beach home was completely flooded. All of the walls, floors and appliances were destroyed.
The house was gutted out, but without receiving money from her insurance company, Pasquale was unable to move ahead with the repairs.
"I couldn't imagine how I was going to handle working, teaching, taking care of them, dealing with regular life and then rebuilding a house," she said. "And then God sent them, as the angels, for me, to help me."
The "angels" are from StatenStrong, a grassroots charity founded by a group of Staten Island natives who help Hurricane Sandy victims get exactly what they need.
Immediately after the storm, it was food and gift cards. Now, it's help rebuilding.
Pasquale's home is the first one they've rebuilt.
"A portion of the funds from this project were donated from StatenStrong until her insurance money kicks in," said Nicholas Ercolano of StatenStrong. "Then, her money will be used to bridge the gap in the difference of what we weren't able to do through the organization."
Sixteen days and $30,000 was all it took for the group to transform the house, installing kitchen cabinets, floors, lighting fixtures and appliances.
The group took care to install the flat screen television Anthony wanted and the chalkboard in the basement requested by Jonathan.
"I felt like I was going to faint," said Anthony Pasquale. "But everything's all right now, and I'm so happy the house is ready."
The group said they've already received more than 200 applications from residents looking for help rebuilding their storm-damaged homes.
For information on how you can apply or help, go to statenstrong.com.