I am writing this letter in response to your show of today. I have a story to tell of the Vasilakos family from Union Beach New Jersey. I guess I should start off by telling you about the individuals in this family.
My friend Nancy Jackson Vasilakos has been my friend since we were freshman in High School, which is about 34 years. Nancy has been my rock for that many years, helping me survive at 16 when my abusive adoptive parents beat me and through me out on the street. Helping me through the loss of those parents after no contact with them for many years. We met our husbands within weeks of each other, got engaged within weeks of each other and married within weeks of each other. She helped me through several miscarriages and fertility treatments for five years until I finally had my precious daughter. She was there for me when I found my birthmother and the fear of wondering if she wanted to see me she was again my rock. She was with me when I met my birthmother at the airport. Nancy about 13 years ago took in her elderly father who had a stroke and since then has had several. She works part time in Target and cares for her father for the most part. We are friends for life; we have never had a disagreement or argument we are like two peas in a pod. Our values are the same Now on to Robert. Robert is a wonderful man. He is great provider for his family that makes a middleclass income and works nights at a trucking company around 45 minutes to an hour from his home (at least what was his home), now onto the childrenMichael is 19 he attends a local community college. His plans up until this disaster were to transfer to Virginia Tech to study Civil Engineering in the fall. After this disaster we sat at my kitchen table and he volunteered to give up going to college and give his parents the money they saved to send him to college. It broke my heart. He works part time at Stop and Shop. He is such a fine young man. His boss does not want to let him go he is such a hard worker but the reality is he will have to leave because of the long trip. He spent his own money to bring me a bouquet of flowers for helping them. Leyani is 13, she was in her last year at her school and just recently received the lead part in the school play. She is a cheerleader for Freehold Pop Warner, her coaches have been wonderful getting her back and forth to practice preparing for competition this upcoming weekend. She is devastated that she needs to leave her last year at her current school, leaving her friends, her part in her play and all that goes along with being a teenager. Norman Jackson is Nancy's father. As I mentioned before Nancy's dad has had several strokes and is disabled They moved him in to their home, added a small bedroom on and a handicap ramp (that was ripped from the house during the storm). He is paralyzed for the most part on the left side if I remember correctly. When Sandy hit the Vasilakos family’s lives were turned upside down. Two days prior they moved their family into a holiday inn. During the storm they lost power. Nancy cared for Mr. Jackson in the dark with a flashlight. It was so difficult. On Tuesday after the storm Bobby and Michael went to see how their home made out. It was pure devastation the home had sunk in the front of the house two feet creating a slant that made the house uninhabitable. Their home was just paid off in September. Bobby and Michael had to go back and tell Nancy there was no way they would be able to return to the home with her dad, therefore they had to place their dad in a Nursing home until they relocated at a cost of $2,000 per week. I took myself, my son, two of his friends, my daughter and her two friends and my girlfriend to the home on the Friday after the storm when they allowed people to come in and help. I must say I was thrown into a state of shock at the pure devastation around me. People sitting on chairs outside their homes, no heat or electric, homes in the yards of homes. It looked like a nuclear bomb went off. I walked into Nancy's home to find my best friend in shock. Moving items from one end of the table to the other, not knowing where to start. My family and friends helped the family make the home livable for at least one night, we brought firewood to light the wood burning stove but it just was not enough. I took children home where in the car ride home you could hear a pin drop. My son and his friends said they were so grateful at where we lived and to live without electric is not a big deal compared to the fact that there are people worse off.
On Saturday we came back including my husband not knowing what was going to happen. Habitat for humanity came in and helped us pack what little was left, fed us warm meals provided by Fridays. The engineers came in and condemned the home. Now where will we live Nancy said, We cried and we held each other. I told her she was coming home with me. There was great hesitation because in the past Nancy was allergic to my cats and she had two dogs and we were worried how that would work out. I insisted for at least a night to have a comfortable home hot meals and whatever I could provide her. Well we have had a pleasant surprise, we have figured out at Nancy was allergic to my dear Jerry who passed away a few months ago and the dogs and cat are friends, we found Benny sleeping next to Max the yellow lab the other day when my kids came home. They are living in my basement for the time being.
Where we are now: As I said, the family has been with me for a week and it has worked out fine. We tried finding them a place close to Leyani's school but that was impossible with 200,000 families displaced it was very difficult. I advised them they needed to look outside the box. I am a local realtor in Middlesex County and after days of searching I found a home. It was like a god send to find a home for rent that is a mother daughter and perfect for the family. Rent is $2,800 per month. Fema is giving them a stipend for rent but they have no furniture to move into the house since it was destroyed and their insurance on the house did not cover the contents of the home. The insurance companies are fighting each other already over who is reponsible for the home. Nancy called Governor Christies office to find out what her rights were for her insurance. Her regular insurance company closed their file until they found out that Nancy called the Governors office then they opened up her file again. They are telling them to contents of the home are not covered. As for items that are needed Dad needs a recliner to sit in, bedroom set, they all need bedroom sets, living room sets and so on. Christmas is going to be difficult with all that they are facing they are afraid to spend money. If I could ask you to consider this wonderful family in their endeavor to start over it would be greatly appreciated Laura Bacskoczky732-742-5728