Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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NYer Of The Week: Locals Continue To Help Residents Rebuild In Storm's Aftermath

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For many in the city, the storm is a distant memory, but in coastal communities, problems persist. This week, NY1 recognizes the volunteers who are still working to rebuild 365 days later. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.

In the days and weeks after Hurricane Sandy, thousands pitched in to help. One year later, a core of dedicated New Yorkers remain.

"People don't understand that there are thousands of families here in New York City, middle-class families, that are not back in their homes," volunteer David Osterczy said.

This week, we honor all the volunteers who are still rebuilding after the storm, New Yorkers like Osterczy, who drives from the Bronx to Staten Island on weekends.

He works with Yellow Boots, one of the many volunteer groups still gutting and rebuilding damaged homes on the south shore.

Staten Islanders aren't the only ones in need of a helping hand. Lawrence Ksiez volunteers with the group Friends of Rockaway. They are repairing homes in the Queens peninsula and helping reopen the local library.

"It almost was abandoned, and a year later, it's much more vibrant," Ksiez said. "It's coming back, and I just want to make sure that it comes back fully."

In Brooklyn, many homeowners are still struggling, from Seagate to Gerritsen Beach to Canarsie. Amid the uncertainty, you will still find people like Pastor Connie San Filippo-Hulla from the Coney Island Gospel Assembly. She keeps the doors open, even though the church is still damaged.

"We will help you in any way we can," she said.

That help, the generosity, the effort from these volunteers is being felt in all five boroughs.

Bronx resident Corinne Grondahl finally got her Edgewater Park home in order after an unsolicited donation from the school where she taught for years.

"'Would like for you to have this gift.' This is the whole class donated money. Can you believe this? 'To get well. Thank you for...' Oh, I can't even read it. 'Thank you for being such an inspirational teacher,'" she said.

There are plenty of 'thank yous' to go around one year after the storm, and that's why those who are still responding to their neighbors in need are the latest New Yorkers of the Week.

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If you'd like to nominate someone to be NY1's New Yorker of the Week, send an email describing their qualifications to nyer@ny1.com or mail a letter to:

NY1 News
New Yorker of the Week
75 Ninth Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10011

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