Boardwalk highlights Long Island Sandy recovery

N.J. Burkett returns to the scene of the devastation a year ago.
October 29, 2013 2:21:56 PM PDT
One of the most intensive Superstorm Sandy rebuilding jobs in the Tri-State Area is on Long Island, where hundreds of thousands of residents were without power for up to a week.

Sandy made landfall at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2012, sending floodwaters pouring across the densely populated barrier islands.

That recovery is ever visible on Long Beach, which relies on its 2.2 mile-boardwalk. Now, the boardwalk is back in business.

It's a giant step for the town, espcially considering how ravaged it was a year ago.

Sandy left behind undescribable damage as the storm pushed the water of the Atlantic Ocean over the boardwalk and into the city.

The iconic boardwalk was destroyed, and during the rebuilding process, Long Beach turned to its most famous native son.

Long Beach's own Billy Crystal starred in an ad campaign touting the recovery effort, and that, combined with millions in disaster relief and $1 million from Crystal himself, helped save the city.

His message was a simple one: "Come see us."

"Not a chance that we thought we weren't coming back," said Michael Creaney, a 59-year resident. "Bigger, stronger, better, we're it."

The price tag for the new boardwalk was $40 million, much of which was paid for by FEMA.

It doesn't take much for Robert Schipf, of Babylon, to become emotional when he thinks about the recovery from Sandy, which inundated his two-story Long Island home with about 2 feet of water.

"For me, the easiest word to describe it is 'helpless,'" Schipf said as he choked back a tear in the foyer of the recently renovated house, where new floor tiles have been laid and walls have been replaced.

The repairs cost him about $110,000.

Schipf and his family spent nearly 11 months staying with relatives as their home was fixed.

"We couldn't get straight answers from anyone," he said. "In this day and age, we have all this focus on preparedness. It would have been nice to have had that. The basic facts about what to do were not forthcoming."

The frustration mounted as he dealt with local, state and federal agencies - as well as insurance underwriters - who could not provide adequate answers.

"None of the insurance companies were ready for this magnitude of storm," he said. "The delays between having your house flooded and getting someone here to do the adjustment was just too long."

Now, the American Red Cross says it has awarded $2.35 million in grants for Sandy relief on Long Island.

The Community Development Corporation of Long Island, LLC, is getting $2 million.

It will distribute the money to 325 households on Long Island that were flooded by Sandy and are now in need of mold remediation.

The Red Cross also is giving a $350,000 grant to the United Way of Long Island.

The United Way will use the money for sub-grants to community groups. The organizations will provide assistance with housing, social services and other support projects.

The Red Cross says it has received $308 million in donations for Sandy emergency relief and recovery efforts.

As of September 30, it says $280 million, or more than 90 percent, has been distributed.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)