Brooklyn residents frustrated over lack of Sandy help

(CBS News) BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast two weeks ago on Monday. The death toll is now 127. More than 90,000 homes and businesses remain without power.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo will ask Washington for $30 billion in emergency aid.

While New Jersey will lift its gas rationing tomorrow, people are getting fed up in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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Ann Smith returned for the first time on Monday to her ruined Brooklyn home. She fled it two weeks ago, wading through knee deep water.

"My God! Oh My God! I didn't see anything like this," Smith said.

When she looks around her house, she sees "complete disaster."

"I never saw anything like it," she said.

Much of Brooklyn's Gerritsen Beach neighborhood looks as though Sandy hit two days ago. Two-thirds of the working class homes were either damaged or destroyed.

Smith's house had six feet of floodwater and like all her neighbors still has no power and no heat. The 76-year-old was stunned by what FEMA inspectors are giving her to cover all repairs -- $1,700.

"You live here your whole life, and it's ridiculous. How can $1,700 fix this?" she said.

In New York and New Jersey, the scale of recovery has brought 64,000 utility crews from as far away as California and Canada.

"It's probably more damage than I've ever seen," said Joe Mauer, a supervisor with Southern California Edison.

Mauer was part of a wave of utility workers flown in by the military to restore power. In many areas, crews have to go house to house, inspecting fuse boxes and circuit breakers. Any damaged ones have to be replaced or risk an explosion. "Mother nature's a lot stronger than anything we can build," Mauer said. "The good thing is we can put it back up."

Smith said the hardest thing to look at is "all of it." She's one of the 150,000 homeowners who have filed a storm damage insurance claim. She had no flood insurance so her carrier's giving her only $5,000.

"I want my home fixed," she said. "I want to be able to live here. I've lived here all my life. I don't want to move out. I don't want to go someplace strange and start over."

Local organizers hope fifty licensed inspectors will go through these neighborhoods on Tuesday and replace corroded fuse boxes. FEMA will pick up the tab, but no one knows when lights and heat will return to this community.

  • 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.