An elderly Breezy Point woman got to return home for the first time since Hurricane Sandy struck, after more than 200 volunteers from Operation Blessing and other organizations helped her build anew. NY1's Bree Driscoll filed the following report.
Thanks to more than 200 volunteers from Operation Blessing, Bank of America and many other organizations, 78-year-old Barbara Joyce came home Saturday to a newly rebuilt house in the Breezy Point section of Queens.
Her home was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy with water filling the basement and much of the living area, destroying nearly everything inside.
"We have painted, we have put in the furniture, we built all the furniture," said volunteer Chloe Irons.
"The reason why we are out here and why we do it is because this is what needs to be done. These people need help," said volunteer Wes Mendenhall.
"This was just a relief for me, a real relief and happiness," Joyce said. "I am happy. I am so happy because I am blessed, blessed with good people."
Organizers of Operation Blessing, which has done work on more than 400 homes in Breezy Point, said Joyce was an ideal candidate to help because she does not have close family members and insurance did not adequately cover her repair costs.
"We met Barbara probably just a few days into the disaster, and when we met her she was very distraught. She didn't know how she was going to make ends meet, how she was going to repair her home," said Jody Herrington Gettys of Operation Blessing.
Joyce, who has lived in Breezy Point since she was 5, is a breast and colon cancer survivor. Now she will be able to look back and say she made it through another of life's challenges.
"The whole house was ruined. When I walked in, the refrigerator was on the floor, my couches and rugs were soaking wet. All my pictures from my past, I had some antique things and they're gone," Joyce said. "Everything's gone but what can I do? I am happy to be alive and I am going to start over again."
Operation Blessing has been in Breezy Point since just days after Sandy but its members cannot stay. They say they will be leaving within the next month to help in other disasters around the world.