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April 29th, 2013
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Six months later, Hurricane Sandy victim Patricia Dresch still struggles to recover

Six months ago, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the northeast and Staten Island, which suffered some of the worst devastation. Residents are still struggling to recover from the storm.

One of the more powerful stories is that of Pat Dresch, whose husband and 13-year-old daughter were among 24 Staten Island residents to lose their lives in that storm. Pat talks with Christine on "Starting Point" this morning to share how she's recovering just six months after the devastating storm. She's joined by Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) to talk about where things stand in terms of recovery funding.

Read on for a transcript from the interview.


ROMANS: Thank you for coming and reminding us what we've all been through in these six months. You're wearing your husband's wedding ring. They found it in the rubble.

DRESCH: Yes, my brother and his friends were walking down the road. He kicked a piece of China and out popped this ring. They picked it up, didn't know what it was. They brought it to me in the hospital. They said do you recognize this? I said yes, it's George's ring.

ROMANS: Wow. Tell us what happened that night.

DRESCH: We were in the house. My husband didn't want to leave because he we left in Hurricane Irene we were robbed and we stayed. We were a family. We stayed. All of a sudden the house started coming apart and we went upstairs to the bedrooms.

We went in the closet, and he said look the water's coming out through the wall, we had to get out of that room. I went in to my bathroom and I'm holding my daughter, and we felt the water rising, and I did go under in the bathroom, but I was able to pick her up.

And all of a sudden the walls just gave out and out we went out in my yard. And as we went out, she was on my arm, he was behind us. And a piece of the roof came and hit us in the head and we both went under. And I knew I lost her immediately. She was gone.

And as I'm going under, I said, I'm not going to die. They're not going to find my body under his rubble and I woke myself up and kicked myself up and as I came up out of the water, I grabbed on to the phone cables that were there.

ROMANS: The phone cables.

DRESCH: I was as high as the phone cables. I just grabbed on wires and -

ROMANS: They found you some hours later.

DRESCH: Yes, about five hours later. I floated away.

ROMANS: So now it's been six months and you have to put everything back together. Start all over again. Are you going to stay in Staten Island?

DRESCH: Yes, I am. I saw a little house that I like. And until the buyout comes, that's what I'll do. I'll sell off the property. I can't go back down there anymore.

ROMANS: So these are your constituents who are starting over, it's been six months. How has the recovery been? How has the rebuilding been, how has the money flow been? A lot of people are in transitional housing.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL GRIMM (R), NEW YORK: It's been extremely difficult. I mean, don't get me wrong, a lot has been done, but there is still so much more to do. In many ways we're really just starting major aspects of the recovery.

And a big part of that is you have to understand $60 billion in total, $9 billion toward the replenishing, and $51 billion, that's a lot of taxpayer money. So obviously, the Congress wants to be stewards of that money and make sure that it's spent correctly for those like Pat that really need it.

And to do that through a massive city like New York and a massive state, there are a lot of things that have to be put in place. So we just approved for $1.7 billion by HUD and now we're expecting the city to be approved for $1.8 billion.

And that's going to go directly towards buyouts and exactly people like Pat to get them finally back in homes and where they need to be. But there's a lot of work to be done for not only people like that, but also the small businesses that have been struggling. And if they don't get their funding soon, unfortunately, they will close their doors forever.

ROMANS: It will be a slow process for Staten Island. I mean, with or without money, it's a slow process to come back from something like this. GRIMM: Of course. This is a massive endeavor.

ROMANS: So you get up every morning and you are working at your church. You're doing religious education for second graders.


ROMANS: How do they help you, how does that routine help you?

DRESCH: They hug, we pray together. They cry with me. They've been through so much these children, the families. They're so welcoming. They're warming. They don't know what to say to me. We just hug and cry and that means so much to me that they're out there caring for me. They have been there since day one recovering. That gets me through the days.

GRIMM: She's a strong woman. She's been through so much and I remember from seeing her in the hospital that morning, I was there in the hospital with her and we said one day at a time then and she's taken it one day at a time and she's doing remarkable. She's a real trouper.

And Staten Island will get through it, it will take time. We're working night and day, but we're a resilient tough town. And I have to tell you something, from all that the government is doing and we appreciate that, but the real heroes are just the average ordinary people that really can together in a way that I've never ever seen.

And I was a 9/11 first responder. I've seen some amazing things in my life, but the people that came and took care of pat and throughout, just amazing.

DRESCH: In the dark they were out there cooking, bringing food, the donations of clothes that came in, the cardinal came, he was firsthand on there. It's amazing.

ROMANS: It's so nice to see you. Thank you. We wish you all the strength and prayers. Congressman, nice to see you. Thank you both of you.

Filed under: Hurricane Sandy
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