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Staten Islanders Rely on Each Other While Waiting for Relief After Sandy

By  Janet Upadhye and Ben Fractenberg | November 2, 2012 8:41am 

NEW DORP BEACH — Residents of New Dorp Beach are continuing to cleanup after Hurricane Sandy devastated their community — and many are still wondering when power and vital relief was getting to them.
Water still covered parts of Cedar Grove Avenue, which is just off the beach in the Lower Bay, and some houses were completely destroyed. Neighbors slowly cleaned their property, some seemingly unsure where to even start addressing the damage.
"We need help," said Caroline Tresca who lives in New Dorp. "We need Red Cross, we need FEMA. People have nothing."
FEMA inspectors were seen in Midland Beach Thursday morning, meeting with people whose houses were destroyed. One worker described the amount of appointments they faced Wednesday as "overwhelming."
About a half dozen police were stationed on Cedar Grove Avenue and the Fire Department responded to a call of a gas leak in a neighborhood home, but many people were relying on each other for help.
Some residents draped piles of free clothes over a wooden guardrail on the avenue. Others walked around handing out water and baked goods.
"Community members are really coming together to help each other out," said Nicole Malliotakis, local New York State Assemblywoman. "Even the bowling alley is donating food and clothes."
While the macabre work of searching for dead bodies in homes had just about ended Thursday, there was still grim news coming out.
The bodies of two young boys, who went missing during the hurricane when their mother's car got stuck in floodwater, were found Thursday morning just north of New Dorp Beach in a marsh off Father Capodanno Boulevard.
"She's a great mother," said Lisa Carrano, the family's neighbor. "What she was trying to do was get her children to safety."
But there stories of survival too.
Lenny Nicholas, 48, was forced to flee his Midland Beach home when water surged through his neighborhood Monday night.
"You saw it rush in like a tsunami," said Nicholas, who fled his home, leaving his cat and Rottweiler behind. "You didn't even have enough time to turn around grab anything."
Nicholas tried to get back to his home later that evening and almost drowned.
"I was swimming as hard as I could," he said. "It was pulling me under."
Miraculously, when he did finally get back to his home after the hurricane left, his animals were still alive. 
Eric Diaz, 18, said he was walking in Midland Beach Wednesday when he passed a distraught man.
"All I want is my mother's ashes," he said the man yelled to him, unable to get into his home which was still flooded.
Diaz waded waist-deep through the murky water into the house, found the urn and brought it back.