Hurricane Sandy: Staten Island Survivors

As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, thousands of families in the northeast face a difficult holiday season. For those still reeling from the effects of Superstorm Sandy, emotions are still raw and futures are uncertain. Reuters photographer Mike Segar visited Staten Island last week, spending time with residents hard-hit by Sandy. He collected not just their portraits but their stories, as they stood amid the wreckage of what had been their homes, businesses, and places of worship. While there was anger and sadness on display, there was also a sense of gratitude for the outpouring of help from afar, and the groundswell of support from friends and neighbors. [19 photos total]

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Kim Joyce stands in front of the remains of her home destroyed by Hurricane Sandy on Crescent Beach, Staten Island, on November 14, 2012. Joyce, who owned one of the last remaining beach bungalow style houses on the south shore of the island, had to swim to safety as the storm crashed through her house. She had to leave her pets behind but she returns each day in the hope that one of her nine cats will reappear. So far she has found the bodies of two of them. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Paul Hernandez stands in his front yard as a worker removes the collapsed remains of a portion of his home destroyed when Hurricane Sandy struck in New Dorp Beach, Staten Island, on November 14, 2012. Hernandez said he and other residents were angry at New York city officials for not doing more to protect their neighborhood from the ocean and the prospect of flooding. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Ronny Kmiotek, a retired New York City Police Officer, behind the wheel of his 1965 Chevrolet Impala which was found seven blocks from his home after Hurricane Sandy slammed into New Dorp Beach, Staten Island, on November 14, 2012. Kmiotek, like so many others around him, lost virtually everything to the flood waters. "This storm or after it, just brought everyone here together and I am really thankful for all the help we are getting from people." (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Susan Aman poses for a photograph as she searches through debris for personal belongings from her father's home in Oakwood Beach, Staten Island, on November 14, 2012. At least 23 people died on Staten Island due to Hurricane Sandy most from drowning in storm surge flooding. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers (from right) Anthony Compitello, Chris Theofield, and Benjamin Colecchia with their dogs Cesar, Brutas, and Timoshenko, on Staten Island where they and others performed dozens of searches for victims after Hurricane Sandy, on November 14, 2012. Ten NYPD K9 teams answered hundreds of calls to search for residents throughout the five boroughs of New York City. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Patrick Zoda, a former New York City Fire Department Fire Fighter, leans out the front window of his house in Midland Beach, Staten Island, on November 15, 2012. Zoda, 46, tried to ride out Hurricane Sandy but as waters quickly rose around his one-story home he was forced to escape by wading through neck-deep water to safety. Zoda who plans to rebuild his home said, "It's just like after 9/11... we support each other and this is my home, I'm not going anywhere." (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Sheila and Dominic Traina stand amid the remains of the house they had lived in for 43 years which was demolished by Hurricane Sandy in New Dorp Beach, Staten Island, on November 15, 2012. The Trainas now face leaving the neighborhood that Sheila Traina said a friend had called "a poor man's paradise." (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Alice Lauro and her daughter Margaret hold a statue of the Blessed Mother Mary which was one of the few items to survive intact when their home flooded on Rome Avenue, Staten Island, on November 14, 2012. Lauro and her husband were planning on moving away from Staten Island before Hurricane Sandy struck but now she says, "we would not live anywhere else, the people of Staten Island saved us." (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
From left, Joseph Ciavardone, Bobby Rasmussen, and Carlo Loporto, who have been friends and neighbors since they where children living in New Dorp Beach, Staten Island, take a break from gutting out the flooded remains of Ciavardone's home on November 14, 2012. All three men had their homes completely flooded when Hurricane Sandy hit but they plan to stay in the area where they were born and raised. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
January Nuzzo poses stands nine feet above the ground on the upper level of her home which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in Staten Island, on November 12, 2012. Nuzzo was trapped with her one month old son, Lucas, when the 13 feet storm surge rose too quickly for her to escape. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Lisa Perez and her neighbor Edward Perez stand in front of the tree that both were separately swept into by rushing storm surge waters when Hurricane Sandy struck in Oakwood Beach, Staten Island, on November 14, 2012. Lisa, who lives in a single-story home raised eight feet above the ground, was swept into the water when she tried to move her car to higher ground, said, "I felt myself drowning and was screaming to my daughter, if I die, just stay there!" At the same moment, neighbor Eddie Perez was also swept into the water trying to escape his home. Eddie yelled at Lisa, now holding on to a log to "go for the tree." The two climbed onto the tree where they spent close to two hours at the height of the storm unable to move. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
89 year-old World War II veteran Michael Arbinni, outside his home on Midland Beach, Staten Island, on November 14, 2012. Two single-story homes built by Arbinni's father in the early 1920s were devastated by Hurricane Sandy's floodwaters. "I never thought I would outlive these two little cottages but now I just might," Arbinni said. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Pastor Joseph Paul Morrissey holds his pocket Bible, standing on the ruins of his home in the low-lying Oakwood neighborhood on Staten Island, on November 14, 2012. Morrissey, a general contractor and owner of a small productions company, worked with his fellow parishioners to transform the Grace Bible Church, just steps away, into a relief and aid center for victims of the storm. Despite losing everything, Morrissey and other members the small Christian congregation have worked tirelessly to keep their church open as an aid center. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Kulib Abass, a New York City Cab driver, with his son Hassan in the remains of his house on Kissam Avenue, Staten Island, on November 12, 2012. Abass's house was destroyed, along with most of the neighborhood, by Hurricane Sandy. Just three years earlier, neighbors on this tight-knit seaside road had pulled together to survive a devastating Easter 2009 fire that damaged many of their homes. Most are now suddenly homeless like Abbas who said he would likely not return to rebuild on this low-lying part of Staten Island where he had hoped to spend his retirement years living by the shore. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
51-year-old Joseph Ciavardone sits on a FEMA supplied cot in the shell of what was his home on Staten Island, on November 14, 2012. Ciavodone's is just one of hundreds of homes destroyed in New Dorp and the surrounding areas on the south shore of Staten Island by Hurricane Sandy. Ciavardone says he will rebuild his family home and remain in the neighborhood of his childhood. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Reverend Alex K Joy, pastor and president of the St. George Malankara Orthodox Church in New Dorp Beach, Staten Island, stands in the basement of his church which was flooded by Hurricane Sandy, on November 15, 2012. Reverend Joy, who has served as a pastor for 37 years, has been struggling to raise the $150,000 plus needed to repair the storm damage and reopen the church. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Anthony Morotto poses for a photograph in front of the home he rents in New Dorp Beach, Staten Island, on November 14, 2012. At the height of Hurricane Sandy, Morotto heard screaming from behind his home, one of only a handful in the area with a second story. He tied a rope to his waist and pulled three neighbors from the flood in through his second story window. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Jaswinder Kaur, with her two children Taranjot, 9, and Harshjot, 5, in the remains of their convenience and deli store which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in New Dorp Beach, Staten Island, on November 14, 2012. Jaswinder, a single mother, faces an uncertain future as the building that she rented may need to be torn down. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #
Linda Restaino stands in front of a message written by her son on the boarded up back wall of her property which was flooded during Hurricane Sandy in New Dorp Beach, Staten Island, on November 14, 2012. Restaino, who has lived at the property for 35 years, is now hoping to leave Staten Island. (Reuters/Mike Segar) #

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