The Breezy Point community was all but written off after Hurricane Sandy, but three years later, the community continues to rebuild. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
A flood-triggered electrical fire tore through 135 houses in Breezy Point in 2012.
But now, what used to be called the fire zone is called the construction zone. It's a small but hopeful sign Breezy Point is slowly returning to what it was.
"It doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't happen in a week or a month or a year," said Arthur Lighthall of the Breezy Point Cooperative. "This is three years out, and we've got maybe 75 percent."
The private community is at the Rockaways' western end. Ahead of Thursday's anniversary, Mayor de Blasio visited Tuesday, flanked by Julian Castro, head of the federal Housing and Urban Development administration.
The mayor, as he has done before, repeated that the home rebuilding program is much faster now than when Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in charge.
"The day I had the honor of taking this office, January 1, 2014, we didn't have a single construction start under Build it Back," de Blasio said.
After officials left, NY1 hitched a tour with Lighthall, the community's general manager.
"We're trying to rebuild what we call paradise," he said.
It's a complicated, costly process. Of about 100 Build it Back starts, 60 have yet to be completed. Homes are raised or being raised.
Concrete has yet to be poured in the beachfront cafe that was destroyed.
The community paid for the first round of dunes. Bigger ones, at taxpayer expense, are coming, though the beaches will remain closed to the public.
Sandy destroyed 350 homes in Breezy Point. About 60 have yet to be rebuilt. What locals see as the real positive sign is that the full-time population has actually increased slightly since the storm.
Citywide, the home rebuilding continues, with an end seemingly in sight. Beefed-up staffing is quickening the turnaround and growing faith.
"Neighbors got checks. Other neighbors got more confidence in the program. And people who still need help are here for the help," said Amy Peterson of the Build it Back program.
Also citywide, dunes dot beaches. Major storm-blocking projects, like the kind seen in the Netherlands, are still in the planning and permitting stages. It's a sign that preparing for the next big storm may never stop.