New York City announced its first purchase of a home damaged by Sandy on Thursday, acquiring property from a Staten Island woman whose husband and daughter were killed during the historic storm.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the purchase, which is part of the city's "Build it Back" program that uses federal funds to offer homeowners the option to repair or leave property that was severely damage during last year's storm.
Patricia Dresch shared her Tottenville home with her husband George and their son 13-year-old daughter Amanda. The walls of their home gave way when the storm hit, and George and Amanda were pulled under the surging tide.
"I couldn't go back down there anymore," said Dresch. "That was it, my family passed there. I'm saying goodbye to something I've loved for 30 years."
Dresch has been living at her church's rectory since the storm and will use the money from the city to buy a new home in her neighborhood, but away from the water.
"We're happy to be helping Pat today, and we'll continue to help everyone else who's eligible just as quickly as we can," said Bloomberg during a news conference at Staten Island Borough Hall. Bloomberg told Dresch he would like to be invited to dinner after she moves into her new home.
The city did not reveal how much they spent to purchase the home.
Bloomberg said more than 25,000 New Yorkers have signed up for the program but it's unclear how many want to sell their homes. The state government is also offering an acquisition program for Sandy-damaged homes, but it will turn the property it buys into open space or parkland. The city is committed to building new homes that will be more resistant to future storms, Bloomberg said.
The mayor warned that there could be substantial delays with the program if the federal government shutdown continues and cuts off access to the federal money that funds the program.
A total of $648 million in federal aid has been pledged to New York City.