Updated 01/22/2013 12:15 PM
Belle Harbor School Damaged By Sandy Reopens
A Queens Catholic school on Tuesday welcomed students back for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit almost three months ago. NY1's Arlene Borenstein filed the following report.
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Fran Brenna is overjoyed she's finally able to drop her daughter Lauren off at St. Francis De Sales school. Hurricane Sandy shut down the Belle Harbor Catholic school for 88 days forcing parents and teachers to commute to a temporary school in Brooklyn.
"This is the best moment, being back, being home. it just brings a little closer to normal," Brenna said.
"It was very hard to put the 4-yr-old on the bus. We lost two cars in the hurricane so both my children had to take the bus back and forth," said Terri Ann McKnight, a parent.
"Much easier, not a lot of traffic," noted one student.
Sandy's storm surge flooded the school's basement and damaged the first floor.
"Everything here was destroyed, our electrical. Not so much above ground as below ground. The electrical, the heat, anything you can think of we didn't have it," said Monsignor John Brown.
Despite the parish's troubles the location became a makeshift hub for Sandy relief efforts, distributing food and supplies to the entire peninsula including to their own students' families, many of them Sandy victims.
"The waves crashed into my house and my basement got flooded and it almost came up to my first floor," said Lauren Brenna, a student.
But with the welcome sign up and plows clearing the morning's snow to make way for students, memories of Sandy came second to the feeling of recovery.
"When I just get home I'm going to do my homework really all the time," said Robbie McKnight, a student.
"We lost a lot but we want to get on the road to these kids to have some normalcy in their life," McKnight said.
Monsignor Brown tells NY1 repair work is still being done and the parish mass schedule will hopefully be back to it's normal schedule soon.