Utility aids storm recovery

Photo by Steve Mosco
By Steve Mosco

More than six months after Hurricane Sandy, the small community of Breezy Point is still fighting to rebuild and return a sense of normalcy to everyday life.

Residents of the seaside town got many helping hands last week as close to 70 National Grid volunteers joined with Habitat for Humanity to assist in the massive cleanup effort. The groups worked together gutting houses, painting and installing floors, sheetrock and insulation.

But this was no ordinary cleanup effort. National Grid President Ken Daly stood in front of the throngs of volunteers and residents at Christ Community Church, at 60 W. Market St., and announced the power supplier has given grants to three local businesses to expedite the rebuilding process.

“These grants will give businesses a boost and help the locals get up and running,” said Daly, adding that National Grid has replaced 14 miles’ worth of gas lines in Breezy Point. “But this is not the end of our work here. This is our extended family and we will see this effort through.”

Daly announced National Grid will provide $125,000 in grants to Kennedy’s Restaurant and Bayhouse, two restaurants in the community in need of help opening in time for the summer, and Breezy Point Lumber, which needs to accelerate its recovery so it can continue to help the town rebuild.

Kathy Dady, a 24-year Breezy Point resident and operator of Breezy Point Lumber on West Market Street, said her lumberyard opened three weeks after the superstorm hit.

Dady said the yard was devastated — she lost inventory, trucks and computers — but Dady continued to take orders and work through the crisis because she knew the lumberyard would be instrumental in rebuilding the community.

“Everyone relies on the lumberyard,” she said. “We’ll be supplying lumber for the houses that were burnt. It will be a different kind of normal, but Breezy Point will be back.”

Habitat for Humanity of Westchester County is helping the community return from the brink. James Killoran, executive director of the organization, has been on the ground with his crew since the damage from the October superstorm was first being realized.

“Some people are just getting back into their houses. And some houses are still being gutted,” said Killoran. “But disaster doesn’t take a vacation and neither do we.”

Killoran said the community has a chance to rebuild better than it was before, taking into account damage prevention from future storms and integrating green building methods.

Along with his team of volunteers, Killoran has already begun to build better, installing insulation made from recycled blue jeans.

“It has all of the benefits of insulation, with none of the dangers,” said Killoran, referring to carcinogens found in the standard pink insulation. “Habitat for Humanity was green before green was in vogue.”

State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) and City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) were also on hand to thank the volunteers and pledge their continued support to all the residents of the proud peninsula neighborhood.

“Volunteers know that when they are rebuilding homes and businesses, they are also rebuilding lives,” said Ulrich. “It’s people helping people and that is what makes this community so special.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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