BRIDGEPORT -- Incredulous shoreline residents responded with a collective "how could he?" to House Speaker John Boehner's attempt to scuttle or at least delay $60 billion in aid for the victims of Superstorm Sandy this week.
Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has since relented, promising quick action on the aid package once Congress returns to Washington later this month.
But that was cold comfort to residents and elected officials who are still waiting for help.
"There's a lot of people -- the renters in particular -- who are left with nothing," said Retta Pinciaro, shaking her head at Boehner's actions.
She has lived on Milford Point Road for the past decade with her husband and nine children. Although her house was never "hardened" and sits right on the beach, it amazingly survived with only slight damage.
Others were less fortunate.
"We won't be back in our house for a long time," said a dejected Bibi Schmid, who lives with her sister, Charlotte, near the western end of Milford Point Road. "We still have to pay the mortgage and the flood insurance on the house, and we still don't know how much we'll get from the flood insurance people."
The sisters had to move to a one-bedroom apartment in West Haven. They purchased the home in 2002.
As for Boehner's action, she said that it's as if the nation has left those uprooted by the storm behind.
"It's frustrating," she said. "We've been out for two months now and it's as if people have forgotten about what's happened."
Her sister said that the situation is "outrageous and disgusting," noting that she received quick compensation for damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. This time around, things are much different.
Fairfield First Selectman Michael C. Tetreau agreed.
"The storm victims can't move forward without that money," he said. "What was he thinking? The complications in Washington have only served to add to the stress -- people are thinking, `Will I get the money or not?' "
Milford Mayor Benjamin G. Blake agreed with Tetreau's assessment. "We were always there for Katrina, the California earthquakes and the tornadoes in the South," he said. "Mr. Speaker, how could you abandon the people of Milford, of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey?"
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said Friday that bills to provide emergency disaster aid have never been held up before for political reasons.
"In the end, it was a strong bipartisan vote (Friday) for the $9 billion to pay for flood insurance," Himes said, "but the remaining $51 billion will be a much heavier lift."
That vote for $51 billion, mostly to help pay for infrastructure damage, is expected to take place Jan. 15, Himes said.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said Boehner's choice was to "play partisan politics" rather than looking out for victims.
"Fortunately, he has responded to the criticism that he rightfully received for this irresponsible decision," Finch said.
Even those along the shoreline who survived the storm relatively unscathed said they had a hard time comprehending the actions of the House.
"I don't know how he was re-elected as House speaker," said Lisa Taylor-Austin, of Milford, whose small counseling business was shuttered for a week. She said that didn't qualify for aid from FEMA.
"I don't know what Boehner's rationale was," she said. "I have friends who can't go back to their homes. Very sad."
A walk along shorefront streets in many coastal communities reveals many homes that are seemingly abandoned. On others, repairs are under way. Such is the case along Fairfield's Beach Road and on Seaview Avenue in Milford.
"They lost their furniture and everything," she said of the less fortunate. "That action was not right."
Fred Van Pala and his family live about five lots in from Milford's Burwell's Beach in the Woodmont borough. They are back in their house now, but he said that he will probably sell, rather than spend the money to have his house raised.
"There are a lot of houses on my street that are still empty," he said. As for Boehner, Van Pala said that he was happy to see that theHouse speaker apparently changed his mind.
"We'll see what he says tomorrow," he said.
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