Staten Island continues rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy

Sandra Bookman reports from hard-hit Midland Beach
October 29, 2013 3:49:11 PM PDT
As the area marks one year since Superstorm Sandy hit, there was a special dedication on Staten Island.

The VFW in Oakwood Heights created a memorial at their post in honor of the 23 Staten Island residents who died in the storm.

The memorial includes a wall with an American flag and a plaque with the victims' names on it.

Residents across the island will light candles by the stretch of waterfront closest to their homes at 7:45 p.m. in a "Light the Shore" vigil, and small businesses are hosting a block party to celebrate their recovery and drum up business.

In Midland Beach, a 24-hour build project is being sponsored by the Tunnels to Towers Alliance.

Thousands of homes were destroyed in the area, and many residents have been unable to return to their homes.

Now, volunteers worked throughout the night and will continue through the day to repair homes in the town.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg toured Crescent Beach, where a 10-foot storm surge destroyed homes. A 10-foot-high berm is being built by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect the shore form future storms.

Bloomberg thanked workers for their service and was told the project, which is being refunded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, would be done by year's end.

There are still plenty of reminders of the storm in Staten Island. Wallboard and debris are piled on front lawns, bungalows are covered in plywood and restricted use signs are plastered on many front doors.

Resident Jean Laurie is about to break ground on a new home that will be constructed on stilts 13 feet in the air. Propped up on the grass on her tiny plot of land, mounted on a piece of poster board, are photographs taken of the devastated neighborhood after the storm.

"This is like our archives," Laurie said. "To let people know that this happened. It was here. And we survived."

Two people, James Rossi and Ella Norris, drowned here during the storm. Residents recently mounted a stone memorial in the grass near the creek to honor them.

"Jimmy walked his dog here every day," Rossi's cousin, Diane Hague, said as she knelt down before it silently on a recent afternoon. "It's fitting that we have something so beautiful to represent the people that we lost."

Workers on Staten Island's south shore are using 15,000 tons of sand to build a 10-foot-high berm.