SANDY ONE YEAR LATER: Family rebuilds after Breezy Point fire

Photo courtesy of Shamus Barnes

One year ago, Shamus Barnes found his Breezy Point home in the fire zone that Sandy left behind.

“It just looked like a bomb went off in the area,” he said. “You heard about it on the news, but you actually didn’t think it was that bad until you saw it.”

Barnes, 44, had been going to Breezy Point since he was five years old. At the time of the storm, he, his wife and three children had a 1940s bungalow they spent summers in. His home, as well as his parents’ home on the same block, was burnt down after an electrical fire broke out that October night.

“Your first reaction is shock,” he said. “But in the end, nobody died. There are worse things that could happen.”

Barnes was able to get from his northern New Jersey home to Breezy Point the day after the storm. When he initially heard about the fire, he didn’t know whether his house had been caught in the blaze.

“It’s devastating, really,” he said.

His 17-year-old son had worked at the Breezy Point Surf Club the summer before and was looking forward to returning this past season, but couldn’t because their home had not yet been rebuilt.

Two weeks ago, Barnes was able to get his rebuilding permits approved and poured the foundation for a new home.

Through homeowners’ insurance and his own funds, he’ll be able to replace the house he lost, with upgrades, up six feet from the ground.

He estimates construction will be done by April, in time for next summer.

After the destruction, Barnes is looking towards the future, and his family is ready for another Breezy summer.

“My daughter will be 16, she’s looking forward to being a lifeguard,” he said.