The first floor of Pete and Milly Peterson’s home was ravaged by Sandy’s floodwater. They were forced to move into their daughter’s home while it was being repaired. The repairs were completed and the couple was able to move back on Saturday. It took more than 100 volunteers two months to repair the home. Pete said, “I see people in town who wouldn’t say hello to you before, who are now helping everyone put the town back together again.”
The Make a Difference Project is going to 20 towns from Miami to Sturgis, SD to repair homes of military veterans. The program was a result of big-box stores and local charities collaborating. Currently, in Moonachie, 10 percent of the residents are still repairing homes from Sandy’s damage. Moonachie residents are desperate for outside help because the government aid is coming at a very slow pace. The non-profit, Rebuilding Together plans to repair up to four homes in Bergen County monthly for the next year.
The Make a Difference Project focuses on helping veterans not necessarily storm victims. Pete Peterson is a veteran and that’s why his home was repaired through this program.
According to Gretchen Viggiano, executive director of Rebuilding Together, Sears and Craftsman provided the $40,000 grant used to repair the Peterson’s home. Craftsman is hauling a 36-foot trailer on the project’s tour of cities.
Ty Pennington, host of the reality show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition said, “This just shines a light on what happened to so many people.” Ty who is also part of the tour, took supplies to Toms River Sandy victims two days after the storm.
Moonachie mayor, Dennis Vaccaro said, “Now if we could get more government funding money, it’ll make it a lot easier.”
Bill Pascrell Jr., representative in the House of Representatives confirmed that Governor Christie will meet with a US Housing and Urban Development secretary today and will announce that $1.6 billion in federal Sandy aid will be disbursed throughout the state. He said, “My job is to make sure it’s disbursed equally. We’re not going to play second fiddle to anybody.”
Over 100 volunteers came out on Saturday to put the finishing touches on the Peterson’s home. Some people live in the neighborhood and other work for Sears or Craftsman. One volunteer, Amy McCambridge-Steppe was just volunteering to pay it forward.
Rebuilding Together restored the basement of her parent’s house last year. She and her husband live with her parents. They even installed a soaking tub to help her husband. Her husband, Mark, returned from Iraq with back injuries and post-traumatic stress. They’ve been struggling to get government assistance since his return. She said, “While we’re fighting with the government and what Mark’s going through, they gave us a sanctuary.”
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