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After 3 years, Breezy home gets help

By Sadef Ali Kully

Three years after Hurricane Sandy, Diane Hellriegel’s Breezy Point home on Oceanside Avenue has still not been touched. She took her dogs to Alabama and moved to Long Island. Hellriegel, who did not have flood insurance, fought to have her home rebuilt. Now that’s about to happen.

Along with dozens of national and citywide nonprofits, Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, the Portland Cement Association, the Insurance Information Institute, and project partners gathered Tuesday at Hellriegel’s home to mark the beginning of the coming transformation.

Several communities away, Mayor Bill de Blasio toured the Rockaways in a helicopter to assess the recovery from the devastating storm on the eve of its third anniversary.

After Sandy razed the Breezy Point community, Hellriegel tried to repair her home, but its foundation was completely destroyed, according to FLASH.

Breezy Point is a cooperative community, where most properties are second homes and the owners had difficulty qualifying for federal funds.

FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson said, “We are a nonprofit that brings private and public organization together and we work after disasters across the country.”

FLASH is a consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and man-made disasters. It collaborates with more than 120 innovative and diverse partners to help foster a more disaster-resilient nation.

When it came to Hellriegel’s home, “the homeowner wants to replicate how it existed,” lead architect Erik Jester from +LAB architects + experimentation, said. Jester said it was a long but worthy process to meet city, federal and Breezy Point Cooperative regulations and satisfy the homeowner needs.

“She wants her windows to be lower for her two small dogs,” Jester said. “It’s just her and her dogs so she wants to keep the character of the home the same.”

But while the home may look the same from the outside, it will undergo many changes.

Chapman-Henderson said the home will be designed to be completely storm-resilient with special windows, lightning protection technology and to protect it from fires such as the one that destroyed over 300 Breezy Point homes during Hurricane Sandy. In addition, the home will be constructed with concrete.

“Instead of having a wooden walkway—like she does now—it will made of concrete, greatly reducing the chances of a fire,” said Donn Thompson, director of market development for PCA.

PCA represents the nation’s cement manufacturers and is a leader on the technology, economics and applications of cement and concrete.

PCA will be donating all the concrete construction materials needed to build Hellriegel’s home. The rebuild has a bigger purpose as well.

FLASH is planning to document every minute of the construction and put together a manual for rebuilding a resilient home. The manual can be shared with any person, city or organization across the nation.

“Resilient homes bring peace of mind to families by providing optimal safety and comfort.” Thompson said. “Durable buildings feature better disaster resistance, making communities stronger and better able to successfully weather any challenge.”

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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