Christmas Spirit Emerges In Neighborhoods Hurt By Sandy
Some Hurricane Sandy victims are using the holiday season as a distraction from their current troubles, but the storm has left many in Queens feeling less than festive this year. Borough reporter Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
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Traveling through some of the hard-hit areas of Queens, it is clear the holiday season is the last thing on the minds of many Hurricane Sandy victims.
"We don't have a lot of money to get a Christmas tree and get everything," one Howard Beach resident said.
Holiday items being sold by the roadside go unnoticed as residents continue to rebuild. Christmas trees are a tough sell for Jonathan Vilar, who has sold trees for 10 years at 114th Street and Beach Channel Drive.
Adding to his worries is the fact that the family's popular food truck, the Breezy Dogs, was damaged in the storm.
"The truck is not working. The generator's shot and I just got this big piece of metal in my yard now. I really don't know what to do," said Vilar. "First, I got to get past these Christmas trees then we'll figure it out, see what happens."
Yet not everyone is feeling down this season. In Belle Harbor, some people who lost everything tried to be festive, putting Christmas wreaths in the ruins.
Over in Hamilton Beach, Marcella Umberto and her boyfriend, Joe McLean, were making the best of a bad situation. They put inflatable Christmas decorations all over their front yard.
"My snowman, my lights, all my stuff. I love it," said Umberto.
The hurricane nearly destroyed Umberto's house, but not her Christmas spirit.
"We have to go forward. We can't think what happened in the past. We have to go forward and make everything happy."
Umberto and her boyfriend took a break from remodeling their home to do something they both say is uplifting, decorating the house for Christmas.
The couple is thankful they are able to celebrate another holiday.
"That's the most important thing, happy to be alive. So I just enjoy it," McLean said.
Hopefully that joy will last long, because Vilar's business depends on it.