A pregnant mother whose Staten Island home was damaged by Hurricane Sandy was forced to leave the Brooklyn hotel where she was staying because FEMA botched her reservations. Kate Briquelet at the Post reports that 27-year-old Keri Christian and her daughter Serafina thought they were cleared to stay at the Nu Hotel until at least December 14 while Christian's husband, Anthony Morotto, restored their flooded New Dorp home. FEMA had approved her stay, but she was told on Thursday she had to leave to make room for another reservation. "I feel like a homeless person…like a street rat," Christian said. "It's aggravating and physically demanding. I'm really pissed."
The federal government's PR push to prove to Sandy-ravaged areas that this isn't another Katrina—despite widespread accounts of FEMA's sluggishness—extends to the Daily News this morning, which published an exclusive interview with former Bloomberg staffer and current Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. Donovan was picked by President Obama to lead the federal government's recovery response to Sandy.
“I have deep roots in the region. This is home,” Donovan said, and the paper notes that he was born and raised on the Upper East Side, got married in New Jersey, and raised his family in Brooklyn. “The President said he needed me to do this and that he felt that I was the right person for the job. He understand that this was personal to me. There was no way I could say no.”
But next to the interview of the HUD secretary is another long account of Sandy victims who are stewing in FEMA's bureaucratic backwater: an engaged couple who have been denied separated claims because they happen to have the same name, victims whose homes have flourishing mold but aren't sufficiently damaged by FEMA's standards for financial assistance, and those who are just mired in paperwork while waiting to hear their fate. "It's discouraging," one homeowner says. "I can see why people just give up."