No place on the East Coast took a harder hit from last October’s Hurricane Sandy than the blue-collar neighborhood of Breezy Point, in Queens. When the storm surge swept over the low-lying streets, electrical power was still on—and soon, fires broke out. By the end of the night, nearly 130 houses burned. In all, some 350 houses were totaled by flood, fire, or both.
Nine months later, Breezy Point is far from recovering, reports the Huffington Post (“Breezy Point Sees Little Rebuilt After Devastating Superstorm Sandy Fire,” by Meghan Barr). “Rows of rectangular boxes sunk into the sand form a graveyard of wrecked homes. American flags waving feebly from the ground help mark where a street once existed,” the Post reports. “A perfect storm of government inefficiency, cumbersome permit laws, and general confusion has hampered the recovery effort in Breezy Point.”
The Wall Street Journal chimes in (“Recovery Is Choppy in Breezy Point,” by Josh Dawsey): “Some leaders and homeowners in Breezy Point, where all the homes are owned by a cooperative, said they had been stymied by city and federal rules.”
But the New York Daily News is focusing on success (“First new Breezy Point homes are starting to rise after Superstorm Sandy,” by Clare Trapasso) — highlighting the story of residents Rich and Tracy Whalen, whose modular house has just been set on a new poured concrete foundation. “The couple is racing against the clock to be in their two-story, three-bedroom modular home by Labor Day — right around the time their second child is due,” the paper reports. Whalen, a volunteer firefighter, told the paper, “This is our home. This is where we grew up. A little water’s not going to scare us away.”
For Christine and George Donley, an older couple, rebuilding is a hard slog — but they’re not giving up, reports NBC News: (“‘It will be beautiful again’: Breezy Point couple returns home, and recovers through rebuilding,” by Miranda Leitsinger). “Sixty-three years old sleeping on a mattress on the floor is tough,” Christine said as she presented the single habitable room of their Breezy Point home. “He sleeps on the couch, and this is where we live now.”
But Christine Donley’s determined: “”We will get through this,” she told NBC. “I am stronger than the storm. I am. It took me a long time to say that, but I said it the other night. I am stronger.”