2013-01-24 / Other News

Plumb Beach Resident Is Thankful For Occupy Sandy Aid

By Jason Linetsky
Photos by Jason Linetsky

Debris from Berardelli’s home. Debris from Berardelli’s home. A steady stream of supplies continues to flow from a large trailer on Emmons Avenue as Occupy Sandy, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, is aiding many families in their recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

Residents are welcome to the trailer every day for supplies, including baby items, hot food and water. A large crew of volunteers happily takes care of deliveries of other much needed items like cases of water, too.

For Linda Berardelli, Occupy Sandy has given her peace of mind that her family will return to their apartment soon with less worries of the future for her 18-month-old son, Marcos.

“We were home during the storm and heard that all of Zone A houses were supposed to be evacuated,” she said. “Our home was a few houses into Zone B so we didn’t leave. Haring Street is supposed to be the highest elevation. We looked out of our window and saw the water was only one or two feet and just creeping up the street so we didn’t think much of it. But, then my husband looked outside and saw what looked like a raging river coming straight through until it literally blew our door off its hinges and flooded our apartment.”

Plumb Beach resident Linda Berardelli with 18-month-old Marcos. Plumb Beach resident Linda Berardelli with 18-month-old Marcos. Berardelli lives in the basement apartment of her parent’s home. The hurricane’s storm surge sent about eight feet of water into the apartment and tossed over all the furniture. Her washer and dryer, baby toys, and a television she purchased a week before the storm, were totaled.

Regardless of poor drainage, the water seeped into the nearby land. Berardelli was able her to get into the apartment, assess the damage, and start to pump out the rest of the water.

“Our walls felt like tissue paper,” she said. “We touched them and the sheetrock dissolved and crumbled. We were able to save much of our clothing and took them immediately to the laundromat.

“We weren’t able to save heirlooms such as my wedding dress and photo albums. Marcos’ toys, our electronics, and all the furniture was gone. The salt water ruined all the wiring in the house, too.”

Because Berardelli’s apartment was deemed to be only a basement of a two family house, under New York State laws, FEMA refused to grant recovery funds to her family and has sent her to try for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, which forced her to go back to FEMA stating her family was “already too much in debt to take out more loans.”

“We have decided to do all the work ourselves after hearing horror stories of work done by Rapid Repairs. Thanks to Occupy Sandy we were able to get the construction materials we needed so my husband and I can get the work done,” Berardelli said. “Literally the day after the storm we had someone from Occupy Sandy come to our house and hand us a case of water. Since then they have been coming to give us packages of diapers and baby food and everything else we need for Marcos.”

In addition to Occupy Sandy, Berardelli quipped about the reversal of support within her Plumb Beach area and neighboring Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Gerritsen Beach.

“Senator Marty Golden has been fantastic,” she said. “He’s had town hall meetings and many people from FEMA and other departments came out. Things are getting done very quickly. Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and Senator David Storobin never come out here and Councilman Lew Fidler claims he is too sick to get out here.”

With the assistance of Occupy Sandy in getting baby supplies, Berardelli has been able to purchase new sheetrock and get the work done to move back to her home. However, she will not risk the health of their son to live there until all the mold is removed.

“Marcos has handled the storm and the changes very well. It’s mama who is having fun trying to get him to sleep and stay asleep. In our apartment the living room would be the area to play with his toys. Upstairs he’s sleeping in the living room but he sees his toys there so wants to play instead,” she said. “I’ve woken up at 2 a.m. and found him sitting there with his toys and then I tried to get him back to sleep. Our neighbors have been great at donating toys and clothes for him so he’s very happy every time he gets something new from them and Occupy Sandy.”

With her job as an editor for a small book publishing company, her husband’s assistance, and the aid of Occupy Sandy, Berardelli believes her family will return to their apartment in the spring.

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