Suffering continues for some 1 year after Sandy

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October 28, 2013 4:34:48 PM PDT
Tomorrow marks one year since Hurricane Sandy hit the New Jersey coastline and damaged shore communities beyond what anyone could have imagined.

We are marking the event with a series of special reports this week, and while we will tell some success stories, we are also compelled to tell stories of human suffering.

One of the first such stories comes from Beach Haven West, on the mainland just before you take the bridge to Long Beach Island.

"It has destroyed us, 100% destroyed us."

Jackie Terefenko and her husband Mike are out of money. After 4 feet of water destroyed the bottom floor of their home on a lagoon in Beach Haven West, the retirees spent their savings to raise the house, which cost more than they expected when it was damaged during the job. That means there's no money to finish the downstairs, which is gutted. They live upstairs where all of their belongings are piled high in every room and hallway. The bathroom doubles as their kitchen and they eat on a folding table in their bedroom.

"It's horrific," said Jackie. "It's the only word I can think of. It's horrific. I feel like I live in hell."

Mike Terefenko tells us, "A year later and look at it. It's like 3 weeks after the storm. It's a year. 52 weeks. This should have been done."

The Terefenkos are infuriated by the red tape and piles of paperwork they've had to deal with trying to recover. They say they were turned down by FEMA because they had insurance, but their settlement doesn't come close to covering what they need to finish repairs.

The couple is hoping to get a federal rebuilding grant they've applied for.

"Now I'm scared it's getting cold. Without this being insulated the pipes might freeze," said Mike.

In the meantime, the Terefenkos' son lives on a boat in the back of the house, since there's no room for him inside. And Jackie is trying to deal with numerous health issues including asthma, arthritis and lymphoma. She sees a state-provided counselor twice a week to deal with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder she and so many other storm victims have been diagnosed with.

As she looks around the house she loves, which was just remodeled before Sandy, Jackie Terefenko says she prays every day to be able to somehow get her home fixed.

"I want my house back. This is not just wood and nails. This is my heart, my soul."

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