Ralph and his wife Kristina met in high school and have been together ever since. In 1997, they got married and in 1999, they had their first of three children: 15-year-old Corianne, 12-year-old Michael, and 8-year-old Nicholas.
Ralph worked as a carpenter and the family was making ends meet until he was injured on the job. He stepped through a hole in the floor and fell twelve feet onto the concrete floor below. The medical bills started to add up and Ralph was unable to go back to work. Kristina works at a preschool but it doesn't pay enough.
"It's like $9 an hour. So, it's not really…enough to do anything really. Maybe pay one bill a week," she says.
To make matters even worse, they live in New York and their home was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy. To protect their house, the entire family stayed during the storm. From their home, the family witnessed other people's houses burning and being washed out to sea. Kristina describes it as "the scariest thing." The water rose to six feet up and flooded their first floor where their son's bedroom is located.
The family's home was severely damaged by the storm and because of their financial predicament; they didn't have insurance at the time. FEMA and local volunteers provided some assistance but there's some damage that's too costly to fix.
"Our house sunk. My whole ceiling cracked all the way across," says Ralph. "Our patio cracked, so this whole deck is all sinking and then, there's pretty much never — in the long run — saving this."