Despite their own struggles in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Coney Island Gospel Assembly continues charitable works, including offering food, clothes and legal services within the surrounding community, much of which also continues to suffer the effects of the storm. NY1's Mahsa Saeidi filed the following report.
Nearly a year may have passed since the storm, but at the Coney Island Gospel Assembly, the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and those horrible memories are as clear as ever.
"The water was so powerful that it just swept through here like a train," said Pastor Connie San Filippo-Hulla.
The lower level of the church was nearly wiped out by flooding, and most of it is still not repaired because of a lack of funds. But that's not what worries San Filippo-Hulla the most.
"We're facing another winter now, and we're hoping that people will have heat," she says. "Last winter for the most part was without heat."
Sharon Lundy, a lifelong parishioner of the church, showed NY1 the impact of the storm on her home.
"I lost my first floor of my home, my furniture," Lundy said. "I lost my car."
She said she's still haunted by what she saw that day.
"The wave was coming down West 24th Street. It had to have been as tall as this building, which is 16 stories high," she said.
She said that in the days after Hurricane Sandy, the atmosphere of Coney Island was unrecognizable.
"My biggest fear is that something to that magnitude could happen once again," she said.
Lundy said she finds comfort and peace at her neighborhood church. Ellis Stephens, the coach of the church's football team, agrees.
"It gives our kids a sense of responsibility. It gives them a sense of leadership," Stephens said.
As they continue to repair the physical damage, many parishioners say the emotional scars remain. That's why San Filippo-Hulla said she's trying to keep her door always open.
"I'd like to see you, I'd like you to come in, and we will sit down and talk, and we will help you in any way we can," she said.
To celebrate the fact that they're still standing after the storm, the church is having a big celebration next Sunday, October 27.
To learn more about the event, or to make donations or volunteer your time, call 718-996-9301.