Four weeks after Sandy, two schools in the Belle Harbor section of Queens that were damaged in the storm welcomed back students Tuesday.
Students are attending class once again at P.S./M.S. 114 and P.S. Q256, which were both completely flooded by the storm. P.S./M.S. 114 also suffered a serious oil spill.
"This entire auditorium was submerged for days. And the gym, the same thing, but with wood floors, it was destroyed," said Principal Steven Grill of P.S./M.S. 114
At the two schools, which are located across the street from each other, teachers and students enjoyed a little bit of normalcy after a month away from class.
The children of P.S./M.S. 114 were split up and relocated to three schools in other parts of Queens and Brooklyn.
"It's a little hectic and there's a lot of traffic out here now with all of the trucks and all of the cleaning up, makes for a long day," said Don Murphy, a parent of a P.S. 114 student. "They get up earlier and they've got to be out of here earlier, so it's a little normal now, a little more normal."
"They need to be around people who understand what it was like for them here, that are able to comfort them, and if they need a hug, hug them," said another parent of a P.S. 114 student. "And you know they're kids, and they lost a lot. So this is important."
Eighth-grader Roland Wertz had some concerns about being back, saying, "I'm not sure about like with all of the air situations inside the school right now, like if there is mold or anything."
The principal said students should have faith that the clean-up by the Department of Education was thorough.
"The DOE supports us, we're supporting the DOE that they're doing the right thing by our children, getting this building done and safe, for everyone in it," said Grill.
Some students did not make it back Tuesday because they remain displaced from the neighborhood by the storm. Grill said he hopes they will find their way back to Belle Harbor soon, so they can be one whole group again.
Currently there are 12 schools and programs still in temporary locations, serving about 5,400 students.
For information on relocated schools, visit schools.nyc.gov.