Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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Queens Resident Staying At Grocery Store After Sandy Destroyed His Apartment

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TWC News: Queens Resident Staying At Grocery Store After Sandy Destroyed His Apartment
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Much of the recovery effort after Hurricane Sandy focused on finding housing for people whose homes were destroyed, but some people have slipped through the cracks, including one Hamilton Beach resident forced to live at a grocery store. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

With no place to live, Michael Riley spends his days sitting on this ledge and his nights inside a grocery store. He has been a fixture there for nearly two weeks after Hurricane Sandy destroyed his apartment.

"See the clothes I got on me? That's all I got left, and I had a lot of clothes" he said.

The 64-year-old said he's lucky to be alive. He spent the night clinging to a refrigerator after flood waters engulfed his Hamilton Beach apartment. After losing his home, he said FEMA placed him in a hotel for about 28 days.

"I told them, 'Look, I got no place to go,' and they said, 'Well, your time is up,'" Riley said.

The New York City Department of Buildings said the damage to Riley's apartment left it uninhabitable. He said he's waiting on more help from FEMA, but in the meantime, he's staying at the grocery store.

"I'm lucky I got this guy, Brian, he owns the store," Riley said. "He lets me sleep on the floor in there."

After speaking with Riley, NY1 reached out to FEMA and the local councilman. They are now looking into the case. NY1 also spoke with Riley's landlord, who said he's working to fix the apartment, but it's a slow process.

NY1 couldn't find Riley's sister, Margaret, but she found NY1 when neighbors said NY1 was taking pictures of his apartment. Her place was also damaged in the storm, and she thought her brother was staying with friends.

"I guess he must be ashamed," she said. "I'm not sure. But we are getting him help."

Riley's sister said she's working to find him a place to stay while the apartment is being repaired.

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