Union Beach, N.J., resident Ronald Peperoni sits where his home once stood before Hurricane Sandy destroyed it. He and his wife put up a “for sale” sign one day, and after getting two calls, Ron said he just couldn’t go forward with the sale. “We belong here,” he said of his home of 30 years. “You think about coming back all the time.”
Union Beach residents gather on the slab of the destroyed home belonging to Lori and Joe Argentina to discuss problems they’ve encountered trying to rebuild after Sandy. Lori and Joe, center, talk with next-door neighbor Joann Peperoni where the family’s living room used to be. At far left is Jessica Argentina, 10, Lori and Joe’s daughter. Peperoni said her family would probably not have enough money to rebuild. “The whole year was hard. Every time you turned around it was something else,” she said.
Jackie Terefenko’s home in Manahawkin, N.J. has been elevated high off the ground in accordance with new FEMA rules, but she says she's running out of money to finish the project and may not be eligible for a grant since she already started construction.
“It's extreme hardship,” Jackie Terefenko said of how she is living. “It’s disgusting that I have to live amongst all this. But as time goes on, you get used to it.”
A new sand dune, 20 feet wide by five feet tall, is created on the beach at Breezy Point in Queens, New York.
Breezy Point resident Kieran Burke hugs his neighbor Kathy Lutz, who has known him since he was a child. "I want to stay here with these neighbors. We all kind of went through this together," he said.
A charred tree is one of the few reminders left of the raging fire that destroyed over 100 homes in Breezy Point.
Plywood fences mark the properties where construction is underway in Breezy Point.
Born and raised in Breezy Point, Kathy Willis and her family see no road home. She said they don’t like coming back anymore because they have to turn around and leave. “You can’t walk up the block to your house. There is none,” she said through tears. “I'm supposed to be home by now.”
A construction framing crew can erect a new two-story home to full-height in three days. Getting the permits, plans and money to do so takes a lot longer.
Michael and Elizabeth Carlson, with their son Michael Jr., visit their new home under construction in Breezy Point, which they hope to be able to move into by Christmas.
The Carlsons visit their new home under construction. “If you asked me 12 months ago, I wasn’t sure. No one knew what was going on, if people were just going to give up and go,” said Michael. “But I think this community is actually stronger now for what they went through.”
As new construction begins to fill the burned-out section of Breezy Point, residents look forward to things getting back to normal. A flag waves above a new home as the crew "tops-off" the building.