NEW YORK— It’s been one year since Hurricane Sandy struck the New York metropolitan area. Reconstruction is ongoing, but for many life is still very fragile.
Patricia Dresch is a woman of faith. Her church loaned her one of their parish houses to live in this past year. Friends and neighbors provided food and clothing.
Dresch barely survived Hurricane Sandy by hanging on to telephone wires. Her husband, George, and younger daughter, 13-year-old Angela, were swept away.
“I didn’t think it would be her last birthday,” she said.
All three had been trapped in an upstairs bathroom, with Dresch trying to hold on to Angela as the waves ripped her home apart.
“And then, all of a sudden the wall gave out and we got pushed out into yard and water was up to my chin when we got thrown out. As we went out part of the roof came down. And hit us on the head. I went up with my arms and that’s when I lost my daughter. She came off my arm and I couldn’t grab her. She went under. And I knew she was gone at that point.”
Dresch’s other daughter, Jo Ann Moyer, came to Staten Island to be with her mother during this Sandy anniversary.
“And the kitchen was back here and we had two decks,” said Jo Ann. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, but has very fond recollections of her former home.
“I wish they can turn this into a memorial. I hope no one ever lives on this piece of land. To me, it’s holy ground. It’s sacred. I loved it down here. Just [to] have the window open and hear the waves crash. It was very calm and peaceful,” she said.
The City of New York, with its new Buy-Back Program, paid Patricia the full price for her destroyed home, and she is ready to move into a new one. But, it’s bittersweet.
“I think of my family every day. And, it’s so strange that at the anniversary the money came forth and I was able to buy my house all at the same time, and it was like saying to me: 'now you can move on to your next part of your life, a new chapter of your life.' I have to live all over again. You know I haven’t begun to live yet. I have been grieving for my family since day one. Crying every day. I yell, I cry, I scream. It’s hard," she said.
Hurricane Sandy resulted in 97 deaths within 105 kilometers of New York City. Twenty-four states were affected, with damage estimated at $65 billion.