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Superstorm Sandy Brings One Family Closer
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Superstorm Sandy Brings One Family Closer

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Superstorm Sandy Brings One Family Closer
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Thursday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. As a new Congress convenes today, John Boehner is hoping to keep his job as House Speaker - that despite a lot of criticism. Some of it erupted after the House shelved a Hurricane Sandy relief bill in the waning minutes of the last Congress. Boehner says the House will vote on a relief bill by January 15.

Two months after the storm, many families are still struggling. In Gerritsen Beach, a small neighborhood at the southern end of Brooklyn, the Hardy family is getting accustomed to some very tight quarters. Here's Marianne McCune from member station WNYC.

MARIANNE MCCUNE, BYLINE: The Hardy's house is currently just barely livable.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Aunt Heather's home.

(SOUNDBITE OF YELLING CHILD)

MCCUNE: They removed a fallen tree, replaced drywall, fixed the electricity and heat, and threw down rugs to keep the dust and mold from overwhelming them until they do the work the house really needs. Thirty-year old Heather Hardy is sort of glad to have a place to come home to.

HEATHER HARDY: There's nothing like being 30 and single and living home with mom. Sounds great.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCUNE: The Hardy family is closer knit than a lot of people could stand.

HARDY: Before the flood even happened, me and my daughter were kind of homeless. We were at a party here at my mom's house and one of my cousins came in and was like, Heather, your house is on fire.

MCCUNE: While they were waiting for the landlord to rebuild that place, she and her eight-year-old daughter Annie moved into her parents' two-and-a-half bedroom house. Her 23-year-old brother has the downstairs bedroom and her 24-year-old sister Kaitlyn comes here every afternoon to watch Annie and her own son. That was the situation when Sandy hit.

JOHN HARDY: We had everybody in the family here that night thinking it would be safer here.

MCCUNE: And then, Heather's dad says, the water started to seep in every crack.

HARDY: So me and my sister were dancing around, oh my God, water's coming in. Water's coming in. And my mom was like, get me a towel, you idiot.

HARDY: It went from no water in the house to our knees in a matter three minutes.

MCCUNE: John had recently injured his back.

HARDY: My son, who's 6'4", my nephew who's 6'4", had to pick me up and pass me out the window, along with all our grandkids.

ANNIE HARDY: Uncle Guy and Uncle Eric bumped my head on the window.

HARDY: Were you scared?

HARDY: A little. The only person I heard screaming was you. Get the door shut!

MCCUNE: In the days that followed, things happened in the emotional life of this family. First, the father of Kaitlyn's two-year-old boy showed up to help. Every day. And this is a guy who, over the summer, got drunk and beat up a neighbor. The family says he's also hit Kaitlyn. He was in rehab and she was trying to work things out again. But her parents were wary.

KAITLYN HARDY: I don't think they would have given him as open of a chance as they did because he helped them so much. He cut the tree down, he put walls up, he carried things for Daddy, he did everything that he was asked to do.

MOTHER: And she's right. We got to see the side of him that he wanted us to see.

HARDY: And the reason why I go back to him all the time and don't just leave like everybody tells me to.

MCCUNE: Heather is the oldest of the Hardy siblings. She's a professional boxer, but makes her living as a trainer. And she says post-Sandy she feels more stuck than ever.

HARDY: There's nothing in Gerritsen Beach to rent after Sandy. Because everybody's looking, there's so much competition. Nobody wants to rent to a single mom anyway, you know?

MCCUNE: Heather worries about her daughter Annie.

HARDY: You know, she's eight and everybody needs their own personal space. You know, my kid doesn't have that where she can come home from school and go to her room. I don't have anything to give her. That's super hard. It makes me really worried.

HARDY: Tie me up!

MCCUNE: Annie says she's fine with no room.

HARDY: I really don't mind.

MCCUNE: What about when we had our own apartment - you miss that?

HARDY: A little.

HARDY: If it was up to my mother, we'd all just stay in the house always. She's like, oh, we need to rebuild? OK. Let's just put on eight more bedrooms so that no one ever has to leave.

MCCUNE: Are you going to build bigger?

MOTHER: We are. We're going to put space aside for the two of them so Annie'll have her own space, Heather can have some privacy.

MCCUNE: One family in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn brought even closer together by Sandy - for better or worse. For NPR News, I'm Marianne McCune.

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