During Hurricane Sandy, Neighbors Save Neighbors on McLaughlin Street

Categories: Hurricane Sandy

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Renée Jacques
Toniann Galati, Ben Brown, and Sal Galati. Inside the Galati house.
Almost two and half months later, the storm leaves haunting traumas. Although the event might be over, the memory remains, and the financial burdens are heavy. While they wait for money and time to repair their house, Toniann and Sal have been staying at various friends and family's homes -- for as long as they are willing to take them in.

"We're all tapped out of money, and we've just been waiting for the insurance company to help," Toniann says. "Now we have a $4,800 bill added to everything else because we have to dorm Nicole. We have nowhere for her to live, and I was just denied the parent loan to pay for it. Toni Girl has been staying on a friend's couch."

Toniann was thinking of creating an indiegogo.com account in order to raise money for her family but ran into problems along the way. "I've overdrafted my checking account so much that the bank closed it," Toniann says. "You need one to use Indiegogo to get donations."

While finances are an ongoing problem for Toniann, it's not the physical damage to her that bothers her so much. The thoughts of the night echo and reverberate and have damaged her psyche. Her home stands on the outside, but on the inside, everything has been ripped apart. The bare bones of the structure are revealed, demanding a new beginning.
 
What bothers her is the change that has occurred within her. Like her home, she too looks the same on the outside. But her mind has been rewired. She has developed a certain vulnerability, a permanent anxiety that hovers over her each and every day. She can't forget it.

"I think this must be what it's like to get raped," Toniann says.
 
Even today, Toniann still hates taking showers. She has to prepare herself when she hears the water forcefully streaming out of the showerhead. The feeling of water on top of her makes her skin itch and her heart drop. It makes her uneasy. 


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