NYC Build it Back helps New Yorkers displaced by Sandy find home again

build it back
Patricia Dresch, right, is the first beneficiary of NYC Build it Back, which will will help survivors of Superstorm Sandy rebuild, repair or move on from extensively damaged homes.
Credit: Edward Reed

When Sandy reached Staten Island last October, the storm surge slammed into Patricia Dresch’s Tottenville home, ripping the house from its foundation and killing her husband and 13-year-old daughter.

Dresch has since been living in the rectory of her local church but, as the first beneficiary of NYC Build it Back, she will soon move into a new home.

“I’m saying goodbye to something that I lived on for 30 years and now I’m able to move on to something, to start a new chapter in my life,” Dresch said Thursday, when city officials announced her home was the first acquisition from Build it Back.

Through the program, the city bought Dresch’s old home and proceeds of the sale will help her purchase a new one.

“It is a great tragedy and we can’t forget that, but we just have to go on,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

More than 23,500 New Yorkers and 5,000 Staten Islanders have registered so far with the program, which is funded using a portion of $1.77 billion in Sandy aid from the federal government.

When negotiating the aid package, Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm said he spoke about Dresch with Republican leadership.

“I made promises that I knew I had to keep somehow, some way,” Grimm said.

The city set up six centers in Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn to help those impacted by the storm sign up for the program.

In addition to acquisitions, New Yorkers can choose to repair or rebuild homes with extensive damage through Build it Back, but Dresch said she didn’t want to live on the property she’s known for 30 years.

“I couldn’t go back down there anymore. … That was it,” Dresch said. “My family passed there.”

But at her new home, which will be away from the water, Dresch has already made plans — to cook dinner for Bloomberg.

The mayor and other officials said they hoped the program and Dresch’s story will help other Sandy survivors.

“We’re here to help each other,” Bloomberg said.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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