Anna Ervolina didn't know what to say when her 4-year-old daughter wanted to memorize her home address before starting kindergarten.
Is home the modest Long Beach bungalow where the family of four had been living before it took in more than four feet of water during Sandy? Or is it the Rockville Centre house where Ervolina, her husband Mike Young, daughter Lauren and son Mikey, 2, have been staying with relatives?
"I didn't know what house number to tell her," said Ervolina, 42, an appellate attorney for a New York City law firm. "I feel like this disaster is defining us because it's taken so long."
They remain without a home almost a year after Sandy wrecked their West End neighborhood.
Construction is surging around Long Beach, but Ervolina and Young said it's hard for some families to find the money or take on more debt to bridge the gap between insurance payments, available aid and construction costs.
The $100,000 that the couple received from flood insurance amounts to less than half of what they estimate would be needed to demolish the structure, clear the site, build a new foundation and raise a sturdy house in its place.
The construction boom "is just the tip of the iceberg," Ervolina said, because the city still has block after block of damaged houses where people are locked into properties they can't afford to rebuild. Ervolina and Young still make the $2,900 monthly mortgage payment on their property, she said.
"There is a very large part of the community that is still displaced and we kind of feel forgotten about and it's hard to hear all this great news about recovery when we are in this situation," she said. The South Shore is building back but "it may not come back for me or for all of us."