â€œHe brings energy, hope. These people need hope,â€ said Sergio Bertoni, 61, gesturing toward the homes of his neighbors. â€œThe president is the only person in this moment who can help.â€
Mr. Bertoni, a doorman who works in Manhattan, said he had incurred well over $40,000 worth of loss and damage to the home he has owned since 2001. The pressure from the floodwater on the block last week was so high it burst through the basement door and rushed through, leaving appliances and electronics like computers, a washer, a dryer, televisions and a refrigerator in ruins.
â€œWeâ€™re hoping anything that can come through FEMA comes here,â€ said Mr. Bertoniâ€™s daughter, Xenia Bertoni, 27, who worked as a manager at a physical therapy office until her mother came down with Covid last year. She left her job to care for her mother, who was in a coma for nearly five months, leaving the family with one less income.
For Mr. Bertoni, who moved from his native Argentina to the United States in 1989, his hope is that Mr. Bidenâ€™s presence will push the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to give as much money as possible.
â€œMy dream was to be an American,â€ he said. â€œMy spirit is in this country. America must take care of its people.â€
On Monday, the governors of New York and New Jersey said that they had been granted federal aid from the Biden administration, which declared areas in both states major disaster zones following the torrential rains and catastrophic flooding last week.
The funding, which will come from FEMA, means that those who have been displaced from their homes by the storm in the approved counties, including people who do not have insurance coverage, will be eligible for money for repairs. It will also cover legal services, unemployment assistance and crisis counseling, officials from both states said.