Some vets still struggling with Sandy aftermath

(CBS News) GERRITSEN BEACH, Brooklyn - As of Sunday night, more than 166,000 customers in three states remain without power nearly two weeks after Superstorm Sandy. The death toll rose by one Sunday, to 113.

FEMA says it's approved more than $411 million in housing and other individual aid.

New York's Veteran's Day parade was also a salute to the city's recovery from Sandy, at least in Manhattan.

"I feel like I'm back in Vietnam," said Brooklyn resident and veteran Danny Smith.

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Smith walked to a gas line to wait for an hour for National Guardsmen to give him five free gallons.

He said he needs gas so he "wouldn't be able to charge a cell phone, and the cell phone's your lifeline to insurance companies and other family who are trying to find out: 'Are you okay?'"

As for the cold nights, there's no heat for Smith.

In Brooklyn's working-class Gerritsen Beach community, all the streets were flooded by Sandy's storm surge. Almost two weeks later, no one has power.

Life there is "very tough," Smith said. "It's scary, cause it is dark here at night with no lights."

About 1,700 of the 2,400 homes were damaged or destroyed in the neighborhood, and residents complain they've been forgotten in the city's recovery. As Smith took CBS News on a tour of the neighborhood, they saw numerous wiped-out homes.

Smith's cousin's house is wet and cold. Insurance inspectors have yet to survey the damage caused by seven feet of floodwater in the basement.

In this close-knit, multi-generational community, many families lost everything. Ruined heirlooms sit before many houses.

But Smith salvaged something special this Veteran's Day: Letters he wrote to his mother from Vietnam.

Examining, he asked: "How do you put a price tag on that?"

Many houses in the neighborhood look dark, dank, and depressing. Families want to rebuild, but first they the insurance adjuster and someone to get the power working again.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.

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