LIers go to DC to push for Sandy aid bill

Long Island residents arrive in Washington before a Long Island residents arrive in Washington before a vote on a relief package for Sandy victims in Washington D.C. (Jan. 15, 2013) Photo Credit: Ed Betz

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For Frank Zerbe, Tuesday's congressional approval of superstorm Sandy relief wasn't about politics. It was about heating his home again.

"I need $10,000 to get my boiler going," said Zerbe, of Meadowmere Park, who lost the first floor of his home in the storm. "I don't ask for much."

Zerbe was one of about 40 Sandy-struck Long Island and Queens residents who traveled by bus to Washington, and cheered the House of Representatives, which approved more than $50 billion in aid. Many on the bus were from hard-hit Island Park, where a group of citizens organized the trip.

The aid package now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.

The youngest Long Islander on the bus -- John Byrne, 12, of Island Park, accompanied by his mother, Tara -- summed up the mood with a sign that read, "Stop The Political Shenanigans," which he carried in the streets of Washington before entering the Capitol.

Cathy Corbett, of Island Park, said she has been living with her family in a $3,100-per-month rental in Long Beach while trying to repair her home. Tuesday's vote puts her one step closer.

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"I just want to get back to my house," she said.

Nassau County still has more than 1,000 displaced residents because of Sandy damage, county Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) said Tuesday. Residential neighborhoods in Island Park -- a block from the train station that served as the site of an early-morning rally for passage of the bill -- remain cluttered with the ruined belongings of people's homes.

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The residents held a pair of rallies in Washington, one near Union Station and one on the steps of the Capitol with Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington). They then watched the vote take place.

"Today we put the faces of the Sandy victims right before Congress," said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who also made the trip. "There's no room for politics in disaster recovery."

The contingent of Long Islanders met with county executives Mangano and Steve Bellone for the predawn Island Park rally before heading south.

Bellone and Mangano, who traveled separately from the residents, met with members of Congress before the vote to push for approval.

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Rockaway Park's Paul Schubert said the passage eases the stress for many New Yorkers.

"We're asking, 'What's going on here?' We're wondering, 70 days later, people have still not gotten insurance checks," said Schubert, whose home was flooded. "We're worried."

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