Habitat for Humanity NYC completes first post-Sandy Coney Island home rebuild
by Chase Collum
Aug 06, 2014 | 4148 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Habitat NYC in Coney Island
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Almost two years after Hurricane Sandy, Mildred Davis can finally go home.

It was Brian Steadman, the director of Resurrection Brooklyn Relief, who was the first to begin work on Davis’ home after hearing about her need through a FEMA councilor several months ago.

“I started bringing in volunteer teams for a few months and realized that I was stretched pretty thin, and wanted to see her get back in her home, so when Josh Webber who was with Habitat at the time and had done a lot of great work in Staten Island said, hey we’re looking to come to Brooklyn, I said, ‘Excellent, we need your help badly.’ I handed it off to them,” Steadman said. “The collaboration and teamwork needed if we’re going to see the thousands of people in Brooklyn who still need help get back together.”

From there, John Cruz of Habitat for Humanity NYC, a local division of the international charity organization, who took over the project on May 1. Cruz worked closely with Dameon Rochester, a disaster relief associate at the 2970 Cropsey Ave. Home Depot location to coordinate material acquisition and design, and along with Habitat NYC’s volunteer core, was able to complete the build out in two months.

“We worked with John from day one on this project. All the materials that you see in there came from Home Depot, from the floors to the appliances, the mulch. The deck right here, I actually designed this deck. It wasn’t in the budget originally, but by saving him so much money on one side, we were able to fit this in,” Rochester explained. “We donate stuff to them. We’ll have stuff in the store that’s either slow-moving or something like that and instead of sending it back to the manufacturer to get credit, we’ll give it to these organizations.”

Upon seeing the completed project, City Council Member Mark Treyger, who chairs the Committee on Recovery and Resilience, was happy to see progress, but also realistic about the areas around the city still in need of rebuild and repair.

“You can’t help but think about when Hurricane Sandy happened in a moment like this. It feels like forever. I know there’s a lot of work we still have to do, but I have to tell you, this one feels really good,” Treyger said. “People talk about the light at the end of the tunnel, and I think it’s safe to say we’ve at least found the tunnel now.”

Davis was overjoyed to finally be moving back into her home on West 29th Street after such a long and arduous wait.

“It feels like a miracle. It feels like I hit the lottery. I am so happy, words can’t even explain how I feel, because I couldn’t have imagined it would end up like this,” Davis said. “I couldn’t have hand picked a better group of people to come through my house, into my life to do what they did. Those volunteers were kind, they were friendly, they were understanding and they were willing. And they brought a smile on their face.”

Around the corner from Ms. Davis’ newly-renovated home on Neptune Avenue, Cruz and company are continuing to work on another rebuild project with a planned completion date of sometime in September.

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