Thanksgiving is taking on a whole new meaning for one Breezy Point family whose home was demolished after Hurricane Sandy, as they're sleeping in their home Wednesday night for the first time since the storm. NY1's Arlene Borenstein filed the following report.
Elizabeth Carlson welcomed people into her family's Breezy Point home Wednesday for the first time in 13 months.
Life has been a climb for her and her husband. They've been living with relatives ever since Hurricane Sandy lifted their home right up from its foundation, and that was just months before the couple gave birth to a baby boy.
"You see all that destruction, and we just figured that, 'How are we ever going to come back from this?'" said Michael Carlson. "It was pretty dismal at first."
But the Carlsons weren't alone. Their home and their lives were put back together with the help of contractors and developers from Arverne by the Sea, a residential mixed-use development who came to the rescue of its neighbors further up the Rockaway Peninsula.
"To be able to rebuild this area and the home for these people is just the greatest thing in the world," said Michael Dubb, owner of Beechwood Organization.
Contractors only charged the family the cost of rebuilding the home, earning no profit.
The Carlsons are the first displaced Hurricane Sandy victims in Breezy Point to receive a certificate of occupancy.
"People gave up so much of their time, so much of their time," Elizabeth Carlson said.
The home has a master bedroom with panoramic views of the neighborhood. There are also several bathrooms, a fireplace, and in the kitchen, not one but two stainless steel refrigerators. On the table was a pre-Thanksgiving dinner donated by the builders.
Builders also say that they raised the home to the FEMA-required levels for homes in flood zones.
"We'll come back bigger and better," Dubb said. "From every tragedy comes something really good."
"It's all worth it now when you come in here and you see this," Michael Carlson said.
There are 49 other homes slated to be rebuilt by the contractors, and 90 percent of them were victims of terrible fires that ripped through the neighborhood as the floodwaters rose.