FEMA disaster recovery sites open in Nassau, Suffolk

FEMA leaves food rations for residents in Long FEMA leaves food rations for residents in Long Beach. (Nov. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Hundreds of Long Islanders, storm-weary and some dressed in all they had, waited in line clutching paperwork Friday at Federal Emergency Management Agency centers in the hope of getting assistance to help restart their lives, devastated by superstorm Sandy.

FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers were set up at Nassau Community College in Garden City, and Bower Elementary School in Lindenhurst.

A line of about 50 people, some in pajamas and slippers, waited to apply and speak to FEMA representatives via a landline telephone bank set up by officials. They needed cash assistance to pay for housing. Some peppered officials with questions about what assistance they're entitled to beyond their insurance.

John Gunther, 37, of Island Park, and his fiancee, Stephanie Refvem, and their 1-year-old son, Michael, waited an hour in line at the FEMA recovery center at NCC Friday.

The family had been staying at a shelter since Tuesday night, when they fled their apartment in Gunther's parents' home. The home Friday was filled with 4 feet of water and without power.

"I've lost all my pictures; everything from my childhood is gone," Gunther said, holding his sleeping son in his arms. "In 25 years, we've never had water in our house. We were totally unprepared for this."

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FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said in a briefing with reporters that 85,072 storm victims in the areas affected by Sandy had registered for FEMA assistance as of Friday. A total of $18,815,347 in assistance had been dispersed, Fugate said.

Assistance includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs.