The Gerritsen Beach Library, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, reopened Monday after 11 months of repairs. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
It looks great now, but the Gerritsen Beach branch of the Brooklyn Public Library wasn't looking so good after Sandy hit. Library Circulation Supervisor Allysa O'Donnell has been there 20 years, and her nearby home was also damaged by the storm.
"I lost two things, two homes, you spend so much time at work it becomes a family, and my real family, so it was really, really hard," O'Donnell said.
The library came back to life Monday after $1.6 million in repairs and renovations. That includes new books to make up for the thousands lost, plus new computers and furniture for loyal library patrons of all ages who use the building as a central meeting place in the community.
"If you've got a neighborhood that's using a facility like this one with staff that lives in the neighborhood you've got people that are worried about their personal lives as well as what's happening at work and it was just a very, very challenging situation on an emotional level not to mention how we were going to get back and running," said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda Johnson.
Johnson says the library is even better than before the storm with new meeting rooms, self checkout machines, and a new roof. Staff were able to see inside last week for the first time in 11 months.
"The community here is such a wonderful community and the staff is wonderful and the branch is wonderful so it's really great to be back here in the Gerritsen Beach community," said Neighborhood Library Supervisor Christine Dille.
And for people here who have been through a lot, they were glad to be back too.
"This is like a beacon of hope for people that they have their beach back they have services they can use here and hopefully there is a light at the end of the tunnel for everyone," said Hillary Stackpole of Friends of Gerritsen Beach Library.
"This card has been burning a whole in my pocket for a year now, so I'm so glad we are back, we are all back and I'm happy about it," said Rose Monte, a Gerritsen Beach resident.
The Brooklyn Public Library had to close six of its branches after Sandy. Five have now reopened, and the worst hit branch in Coney Island is scheduled to open its doors once again in late October.