SI Town Hall Meeting for Sandy Victims Erupts With Emotion

More than 1,000 people went to New Dorp High school to ask FEMA and other agencies what to do about their damaged homes and neighborhoods

By Andrew Siff
|  Friday, Nov 30, 2012  |  Updated 6:37 AM EDT
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Frustrated Staten Island residents packed the New Dorp High School auditorium Thursday night demanding answers about Sandy recovery efforts. Andrew Siff reports.

Andrew Siff

Frustrated Staten Island residents packed the New Dorp High School auditorium Thursday night demanding answers about Sandy recovery efforts. Andrew Siff reports.

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A town hall-style meeting on Staten Island intended to answer people's questions one month after Sandy, boiled over in a packed auditorium filled with emotion.

"These people are frustrated," said Nicole Chati of New Dorp Beach. "Lives were lost. My house -- I can rebuild the house. My neighbor is dead."

Chati was among more than 1,000 people who went to New Dorp High School to ask FEMA and other agencies what to do about their damaged homes and neighborhoods. Some who came to the meeting were turned away, unable to fit into the auditorium.

The Staten Island Borough President's office had planned for residents to write their questions down and have a panel of experts read the inquiries. The idea was to filter out hyper-specific questions that would only apply to a few people.

But early into the meeting the crowd began shouting out questions and officials relented, allowing people to line up and speak into microphones. Many took the opportunity to vent.

Ray Hernandez, an official from FEMA, offered to meet with homeowners who had specific questions to go over their claims.

"What's gonna happen to our neighborhood?" asked Tom Saglembeni of New Dorp Beach outside the meeting. "Are they condemning our neighborhood?"

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