Staten Island mother Glenda Moore lost her two sons to Hurricane Sandy, and her tragedy was compounded when her neighbors refused to help her as she tried to find Brandon, 2, and Connor, 4.
Police searched for the two young Staten Island children for four days before discovering their bodies in marsh Thursday.
Moore was trying to escape Hurricane Sandy’s wrath in her SUV when the area near the vehicle became inundated from storm surge. She held tight to her sons but lost her grip during the storm.
“She was holding onto them, and the waves just kept coming and crashing and they were under,” Moore’s sister told the New York Daily News. ““It went over their heads … She had them in her arms, and a wave came and swept them out of her arms.”
As Moore searched for her missing sons, she went knocking on her neighbors’ doors to ask for their assistance in finding Brandon and Connor.
"They answered the door and said, 'I don't know you. I'm not going to help you,’” her sister told the paper. "My sister's like 5-foot-3, 130 pounds. She looks like a little girl. She's going to come to you and you're going to slam the door in her face and say, 'I don't know you, I can't help you'?'”
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Moore is now in Brooklyn with her family, the New York Post reported.
“It’s a shock for everybody right now,” a family friend told the paper. “She’s in pain.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the media the deaths of Brandon and Connor was among the worst tragedies in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
“Terrible, absolutely terrible,” Kelly said. “It compounds all the tragic aspects of this horrific event.”
Brandon and Connor were among the 19 deaths on Staten Island due to Hurricane Sandy. Staten Island had the highest death count of the five boroughs of New York City, where 41 deaths were blamed on the storm.
Moore rode out the storm on the porch of one of her neighbors’ homes until a rescue team found her, the Post reported.
Her husband, Damien Moore, was in Brooklyn when the storm hit and was unharmed. A friend of the family told the Post that Brandon and Connor were “the joys of their lives.”
"They're the most beautiful children ever," Glenda Moore’s sister told the Daily News. "One's a redhead, the other a dirty blonde."
Staten Island residents criticized federal agencies, saying they are slow to help the borough recover after Sandy.
“They forgot about us,” Staten Island resident Theresa Connor, 42, told Reuters of the most isolated and least populous borough of New York City. "And (Mayor Michael) Bloomberg said New York is fine. The marathon is on!"
Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro shared in the outrage over what he and other residents said was a lack of response after Sandy.
He said the American Red Cross “is nowhere to be found” in the borough. Television coverage of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath showed Staten Island residents being rescued from their homes in boats while others had their houses destroyed by the storm or still lack power.
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano was scheduled to visit Staten Island Friday along with Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Administrator Richard Serino, according to NBC New York.
Staten Island residents were desperate for food, shelter, heat and power.
"We're gonna die! We're gonna freeze! We've got 90-year-old people!" one resident told WCBS.
Many Staten Island residents expressed frustration, claiming aid is being directed to Manhattan and New Jersey instead of their borough.
"Though people don't talk about Staten Island much, people are here, a lot of people are hurting, so it's upsetting,” Navel Pritchard said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city government is working to get the area back to normal as soon as possible. That includes holding the New York City Marathon on Sunday.
The decision to hold the marathon has been a controversial one. The famous race starts on the Staten Island side of the Verrazano Bridge, which connects the island to Brooklyn.
New York State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R, Staten Island) was one of those criticizing the decision, saying that holding the race is insensitive to Staten Island residents who are still recovering from the storm and are in dire need of assistance.
"We are far from fine and the fact that the mayor wants to have a marathon this weekend when we have people who lost either their lives or lost their entire house,” she told WCBS. “I mean, it's unbelievable to me."