‘It’s been hell’

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With the foundation for her new home complete, Grimando expects the prefabricated structure to arrive on July 11 and be lifted into place by a crane. “I’m getting a brand new home, so I consider myself lucky, but just about everything was lost,” she said. “When my son wants to know where his baby pictures are, I’ll show him pictures from [the hurricane].”

Grimando said she is looking forward to having some privacy once she is in her new home, as she and her 9-year-old son have been sleeping in her parents’ dining room at their home on Doughty Boulevard in Inwood. “We’re trying to pick up the pieces and move forward,” she said. “But you can’t move forward when you’re lost in limbo like this. We need to be home.”

A few houses down on Bayswater Boulevard, Patty Vacchio is still without a kitchen and living room. “It’s frustrating that it’s taken so long to get back to somewhat of a normal life,” she said. “We want our basic necessities back. We also don’t want to ever be faced with the same situation again.”

Vacchio’s difficulties were compounded by the fact that she was ineligible to receive rebuilding assistance from FEMA because she had flood insurance, and has received only about 40 percent of the settlement she applied for after the storm. “We’re still fighting to collect our insurance money,” she said. “We’re just trying to get back to where we were.”

The neighborhood Vacchio has called home for nearly 30 years was irrevocably changed by Sandy. “It’s sad that some houses have been torn down and some people haven’t returned at all,” she said. “This once was a beautiful, small, isolated community, which seems decimated. However, for those of us that have endured, I do believe we will come back stronger than before.”

Siciliano anticipates that her home repairs will be completed in the next three to six months, but she said she will never get back the family photos and remembrances of when her children were younger. “New is nice but old is comforting,” she said as she displayed some soon-to-be-completed needlework, which reads, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

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