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Victim With Very Special Needs

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Joined: Mar 17, 2005
Posts: 22572
Location: Staten Island

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:36 pm    Post subject: Victim With Very Special Needs
From Nov 14, 2012 to Nov 28, 2012 (included)
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Dear Mr. McKeon,

My sister, Debra Davis is a wheelchair-bound resident of the Midland Beach area of Staten Island, New York. Her address where the disaster occurred is: 141 Freeborn Street Staten Island, NY 10306. It was one of the worst hit areas of Hurricane Sandy, with the most reported fatalities in one neighborhood, and over 90% of the homes were destroyed. The ailments Debra have are: She walked most of her life and started tripping and falling and holding on to people and walls to walk when she was about 15 years old. She went into a wheelchair at 18 years old and is now 34 years old. Her condition has been getting progressively worse each day that passes. She is wheelchair-bound and has a form of Muscular Dystrophy known as Friedreich's Ataxia. She also has severe Scoliosis with a stainless steel rod inserted into her spine (with the tip of it pointing up like a hump through her skin at the top of the spine area). She has a rod in her right leg after having broken her femur bone. She has Diabetes (type 2) and Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) which is a heart condition. She also has a heart murmur, and is on a lot of related medications for all of these ailments. She has been on numerous waiting lists for wheelchair-accessible housing for 16 years and has gotten nowhere, so had to continue living in her parent's home. Now, most of her belongings were destroyed in the hurricane. This includes much of her clothing, collection of merchandise from her favorite show, I Love Lucy, medical equipment such as a motorized and manual wheelchair, hospital bed with special mattress to prevent bed sores, etc... (which a company may be getting donated for her if she can get a place to live for them to deliver it to), and her number one hobby, her Playstation 3 with television, among other things were all destroyed. She also had a high-tech intercom and camera system where she could speak with visitors and see who was at the door as she was unable to get up and physically answer the door. This was also destroyed by the flooding. She received a check from FEMA to cover 2 months rent, but we are finding it very difficult to find wheelchair-accessible housing. On top of that, she has a fixed income from Disability for just over $700 per month and can not afford most apartments after the FEMA money runs out. She really needs a place to live in Staten Island because all of her doctors are there, and she gets nauseous often, but especially while traveling. Right now, relatives and her live-in health aid have been carrying her up and down a flight of stairs to shower and use the bathroom. Debra needs a place that is wheelchair-accessible, and can accommodate her and the male live-in health aid. She had 10 cats, we found homes for 7 of them but she kept her 3 favorite ones, which are like her children, so hopefully the place will be pet friendly as well.

Hurricane Sandy did extensive damage to the house, with the water level having risen 114" off the ground on the exterior, or 77" on the interior of the one story home. The shed was in the pool, 15 foot long boardwalk planks, gigantic tree stumps, and a lot of other debris was found floating around the yard. Luckily, we had volunteers from the NYU Navigators so the home is mostly cleaned out. It is not only unsafe to live in, but it was declared as an unsafe structure, and received a red tag. Debra's family was advised to rebuild the home the right way, up on stilts raised a minimum of 8-10 feet off the ground to prevent severe damage during future storms. In that case, an elevator will need to be installed for Debra. It will also need the standard wheelchair accessible shower Debra is accustomed to, in addition to any other features they can add to make her disability easier to live with. Most of the items she lost or that she needs will not be covered by insurance (she didn't have any and the homeowner did not have contents insurance) or FEMA. Plus, the family still owes money ($95,000) on the home, so the lender plans to take the full amount owed out of any amount collected from the insurance company, which will not leave the family with enough money to rebuild the home even if they do get the full amount of the $150,000 flood insurance policy. Debra's family is already in a lot of debt (over $300,000), and unable to afford the immense cost of rebuilding this home with the wheelchair accessibility that Debra needs. Debra's father is 58 years old and will be retiring in the next few years, so he is not in a position to borrow a lot more money, plus he is the only one working. His wife is on Disability due to Bi-Polar Disorder. So in the long term, we would like any assistance possible with rebuilding a wheelchair-acessible home with the conveniences she was used to having. Her family had a 32 foot long ramp installed just to go up 5 feet of steps. They also had ripped out the bathtub and put in a flat, wheelchair-accessible shower. The city recommends rebuilding the right way, up on stilts 8-12 feet above the ground to protect the home from future storm damage. In the event that happens, Debra will need an elevator, or some way to access it. Right now, the most immediate concern is to get Debra a temporary place to live until her home is rebuilt. thank you for your time and cooperation. Any assistance your organization can provide will be greatly appreciated.


April Davis
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