Friends of Rockaway follows Katrina model to help rebuild Queens after Superstorm Sandy

HOWARD BEACH (WABC) -- Like portions of New Orleans still rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina, there are homes across our area that are still rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy.

And now, the group Friends of Rockaway is is proving help in hard-hit Queens communities.

One home in Howard Beach so heavily damaged that the homeowner was forced to leave is finally being painted and made livable again, thanks to many volunteers.

"What we do here is a model, a replica of what we are doing down in New Orleans," director Thomas Corley said.

Friends of Rockaway became an affiliate of the St. Bernard Project, a not-for-profit organization that began right after Katrina struck New Orleans 10 years ago. Their efforts there are to help residents to rebuild and return to their homes. It's the same principles they are applying here.

"Identify homeowners that were affected by Hurricane Sandy that are still unable to get home, make repairs to their property without some assistance," Corley said.

Working with a myriad of volunteers and donations, they step in to projects to see that residents can finally return to their homes.

In Rockaway, where the group's headquarters is located, they are currently working 17 jobs sites and have a waiting list of 15 homeowners trying to qualify for help.

Since it began, Friends of Rockaway has provided assistance to 150 properties and fully rebuilt 102 homes in Queens.

The owner of a Rockaway town house suffered heavy damage to the structure, as well as a rental property next door. Now, both are in the process of being repaired.

"What we find here, New York City, and what they continue to find in New Orleans, is that there are hundreds and thousands of people that are still waiting to return home that still have unmet needs," Corley said.

With a decade passed since the devastation of Katrina and coming up on three years since Sandy wreaked havoc in its path, some long-forgotten residents are finally getting help.

"Our aim is to not have a 10-year anniversary where there are still families and homeowners waiting to return home," Corley said.

For more on the group, visit
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