After months of rebuilding, the Sea Gate Beach Club in Brooklyn is back open for business this weekend, months after the owners vowed not to let Hurricane Sandy stand in the way of what they hope will be a busy season. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio filed the following report.
The start of a new summer season is the start of a new life for the Sea Gate Beach Club in Brooklyn.
"This summer is huge, because basically a miracle happened here," said Barry Akrongold, a co-owner of the club.
Seven months ago, Hurricane Sandy destroyed the club's pools, cabanas, bar and restaurant, leaving nothing behind.
"No one thought we were going to open again, but we did open again. I spent so many nights thinking, how are we do this?" Akrongold said.
Akrongold and his staff were not only determined to rebuild, but reopen by Memorial Day. They started the work in March and basically worked nonstop ever since.
"It's incredible, it's like a rebirth. And it's so nice. We have a cabana right on the beach," said Armand Bueno, a club member.
Beside the damage, money also made the rebuilding a challenge. The owners did not receive any disaster assistance or insurance money, so they paid for the million dollars in repairs out of their own pocket.
Manager Sal Argano has worked at the club for 18 years and did a lot of the work to reopen in time for summer.
"Families depend on us. They are putting their summer in our hands, you understand? We don't take that lightly," Argano said. "There were times I said, 'Oh boy, this is too much,' but I believe God will never give me anything I can't handle."
Club members appreciate that devotion. Joanne Scapelito has rented the same cabana there for 19 years and would not spend the summer anywhere else.
"The most important thing is the people here. Sal, his family, they make it home. This is home away from home for three months," Scapelito said.
Despite some less than summery weather, there is a feeling and confidence at the beach club that the best is yet to come.
"I think it's going to be the busiest season ever," Akrongold said.