Amid the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, there are also blessings for many New Yorkers this Thanksgiving. That includes one Brooklyn family NY1 been following that is picking up the pieces of their house, home to four generations, in the Sea Gate section of Brooklyn. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
In seconds, an excavator picks up and carts away a lifetime's pieces.
From the anonymous debris emerges the familiar, and cherished. Old LPs. A clock. A boy's truck.
For Helen Nier-Russo, mementos of her late grandmother are gone forever. She was hoping to keep them. It took her and her aunt hours to find them amid the muck. Then, in a flash, someone threw them out, leaving Nier-Russo too distraught to talk.
"Helen and I were down there two weeks ago, right after the storm, two-and-a-half weeks ago, and we found a number of things that belonged to her grandmother," said Dorian Thompson, Nier-Russo's aunt. "We put it up there, so this way it would be safe and we wouldn't lose it, and today, they decided to clean it all up."
Alexis Nier's apartment was beside her sister's in the home their grandfather bought four decades ago.
"Within one second, all gone," she said. "A lifetime to build. A second to take away."
The workers taking it away know the tears. New York City Department of Sanitation official Myron Priester tells his men it's sometimes best to go just a bit slower.
"Some people have to grieve over the things that they're losing," Priester said. "Maybe they're pictures. Maybe they're cherished possessions that they had over the years. And I ask them to be compassionate about it, and just do the best they can."
It was without distinction that Hurricane Sandy marred the grand and the modest.
One grand home is but a shell of its former self. The basement is cleaned out and dry but a lot of work remains. Electrical wires, insulation and, of course, the outside, where the damage is clear."
That will wait on Thursday. There will be a Thanksgiving, still, for the Russos.
"They need to be together," Thompson said. "They need to be with family. And it, it's very difficult. Very difficult."
Signs of hope: friends to cry on, gentle waves lapping the beach, and along Atlantic Avenue in Sea Gate, someone has already trimmed the tree.