* This story was updated at 7:20 a.m. 10.25.13.
Anna Ervolina perhaps didn’t mean to but she helped to underscore a government official’s point about non-profits that have yet to release funds they were given for Hurricane Sandy relief.
The Pennsylvania Avenue resident, whose home was substantially damaged during the storm, spoke out about the lack of assistance she has received to rebuild at a press conference held on her block by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Thursday morning. He discussed the contents of a report that reveals about 40 percent of the $570 million that charities collected for Sandy assistance has still not yet been distributed.
“The tragedy of Hurricane Sandy is not over,” Schneiderman said on announcing that his office had reached an agreement with four charities, including the Red Cross, to provide an additional $10 million in storm-related assistance to impacted areas. “There are still New Yorkers suffering.”
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As the press conference concluded, Ervolina arrived on the scene, to pick up mail at her abandoned home at 82 Pennsylvania Ave., and stated that she has exhausted her efforts to gain assistance to rebuild her home, including from her insurance company and any charitable organizations. While she did receive some assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, she said, those funds were spent quickly, and she still needs about $150,000 that she doesn't have to rebuild.
“I called everybody,” she said to Schneiderman, and noted that she is still paying the mortgage, taxes and insurance on her home while she and her family, including two young children, have lived elsewhere after the storm.
Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), City Manager Jack Schnirman and Councilwoman Fran Adelson attended the press conference, and along with Schneiderman they all approached her as she told her tale. Then many members of the press in attendance surrounded her and asked her questions.
Ervolina noted that her block, one that Sandy hit hardest in the West End, had been the backdrop for numerous news stories and photo ops since the storm. At the time of the press conference, builders were in the midst of reconstructing some of the many storm-damaged homes on Pennsylvania.“I feel that people who are less damaged than us are getting the assistance,” Ervolina said, speculating that her home was so damaged that it’s deemed a “lost cause.”
Schneiderman said that some of the charities "were not feeling the urgency" to release the funds. Other non-profits, he added, were inexperienced on where and how to spend the money, or they used the funds as overhead.
"The money is moving out faster now," he said.
Schneiderman said that of the $10 million in additional funds, the Red Cross is providing about $6 million from the charity's general fund, mainly for housing-related needs.
"The Red Cross has done right by New York," he said.