Just days before he was re-elected in a historic second-term victory, President Barack Obama stood with Hurricane Sandy victims, pledging to quickly assist them in their dire time of need. While in Brigantine, N.J., on Oct. 31, he comforted local business owner Donna Vanzant, with a photograph of their embrace subsequently going viral. But while the president promised quick relief, Vanzant is now charging that the nation’s leader broke his pledge and has yet to deliver.
In an interview with The Philly Post, the owner of the North Point Marina, a venue that was destroyed in the storm, said that she is struggling — but “surviving” — and noted that she has yet to begin rebuilding. FEMA doesn’t help businesses with monetary aid and her insurance money has not yet come through, leaving her stagnant and unable to begin the painstaking process of rebuilding.
“I have probably suffered $500,000 in losses,” Vanzant explained. “And we’ve lost all of our docks and our bulkhead, and the estimate for that is $200,000, and you can’t get insurance on your docks or bulkhead.”
Clearly, her challenges have been monumental and, based on her assessment, the insurance company has been “dragging” its feet. After her meeting with the president months ago, though, one would assume that Vanzant would have been granted all the help she needed.
A video of her encounter with Obama shows the nation’s leader hugging the business owner and telling her, “We’re going to help you get it all together. I promise. You’re going to be okay.”
But that’s not all. Obama identified her to one of the individuals helping in the relief as the owner of the marina and said, “I want to make sure that she knows that we’re going to immediately get the help that she needs to get this all back together again.”
Watch the clip, below:
Naturally, considering Obama’s pledge to help Vanzant, the Post asked if she has had any interaction with the White House since meeting the president.
“After his visit, I sent an email to President Obama,” she told the Post. “Many days later, I got a response back. It was disturbing.”
Vanzant went on to describe a form letter she received — a note that had nothing at all to do with Hurricane Sandy. She said that the message she was sent, rather than addressing her concerns over the disaster, merely thanked her for supporting the troops.
“When you get a hug from the President of the United States, you feel like there’s something there. A promise was made,” she continued. “I have two grown kids. One is a U.S. Navy diver. The other one lives at the marina with his wife and new baby, and they lost everything.”
The business owner explained that she raised her children to know that “your word is your word.” She took aim at the notion that the president has broken a promise, noting that she has never been an individual who has looked for free handouts. While she said that Obama initially gave her hope, she’s now skeptical.
It should be noted that the e-mail address where she sent her request is not known. If it was a general account, chances are the president and his staff may not have received it. However, the troop response she received is certainly odd. Regardless, Vanzant’s moment of need continues, as Obama’s pledge goes unfulfilled.
(H/T: The Philly Post)