Yonkers Family Looks For Help After Hurricane Sandy

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Members of a Yonkers family whose garage was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy said they are searching for answers. Photo Credit: Jeanellen Fullam

YONKERS, N.Y. – A Yonkers family is searching for answers after Hurricane Sandy reduced its garage to a pile of rubble.

Jeanellen Fullam and her husband, Larry, are part of an untold number of families stuck in the “in-between” – they didn’t lose everything in the storm, but their property suffered expensive damage that no one seems willing to cover.

“No one seems to be thinking about people in our situation,” Jeanellen said Wednesday. “My heart really goes out to those who lost their homes in this terrible storm. But this is important, too.”

In October, Sandy’s winds took down a neighbor’s 100-foot tree and sent it crashing through the Fullam’s two-car garage on Shelley Avenue. While homeowner’s insurance picked up much of the costs, Fullam said the family learned it would have to add a foundation to the structure in order to comply with the city’s code.

But with the city unable to offer assistance and FEMA unwilling to help because the garage wasn’t attached to the “primary structure,” the Fullams are left on their own to tackle a bill that has been estimated as high as $10,000.

And the clock is ticking on how soon they can get it done.

A day after the storm, Fullam said they were issued a letter from the city’s Office of Housing Inspection declaring the structure unsafe. The family hired a contractor to stabilize the garage, but was given just 90 days to apply for a building permit.

Now, two months later, Fullam said the family is getting desperate. 

“We’re still scrambling, trying to find a contractor that we can afford,” she said. “But we’re a middle class family. It’s not like we have a lot of money.”

While they had considered replacing the garage with a carport, Fullam said, they were afraid it would decrease the price of a home that is already losing value since they bought it three years ago.

“We will be in a dire financial situation if we can’t maintain the value of our house,” she said.

Since Hurricane Sandy hit, more than 230,000 New Yorkers have applied for FEMA, with a total of $664 million handed out. But a countless number of families seeking aid have been turned away for various reasons.

That leaves many in situations like the Fullams – looking for help with nowhere to turn.

“It’s frustrating for me because there is no one out there for people like us,” Fullam said.

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