Slowly but surely Breezy Point is coming back.
“We continue to push as hard as we can,” said Arthur Lighthall, General Manager of the Breezy Point Cooperative. “It’s a constant effort to get things expedited, processed, approved.”
The roar of bulldozers and banging of hammers can be heard around the once-silent streets of the sleepy beach town. After Sandy tore through the neighborhood, 350 homes were left uninhabitable, some due to fire.
Now, approaching the storm’s one year anniversary, Lighthall said the cooperative has received 85 sets of plans from various property owners and their architects, proposing a way to rebuild.
“These people spent the first several months after the storm just waiting to see what they could do,” Lighthall said, referring to new FEMA, insurance and city standards.
“This is not something that those 350 chose to do. These people are forced [to rebuild],” he continued.
The cooperative is the first to receive the architects’ plans to rebuild and restructure lost property, which are then sent to the borough’s Buildings Department. After the department approves the plan, the process to receive the appropriate city permits begins, and construction can start.
Lighthall estimates that roughly 20 applications have been approved in the city’s system.
During the storm, an electrical fire also decimated 135 homes. Of those, about six homes are beginning to rise from the sand.
However, nobody from the fire zone is back in their homes.
All new structures are set to be built higher to comply with FEMA standards in addition to the two feet the city added for flood elevation. Additionally, no house will have a basement, Lighthall said.
The majority of homeowners are still displaced, living in various places throughout the city. Some residents have taken a different approach to rebuilding; one family installed a two-story modular home on Reid Avenue to get back into Breezy.
Lighthall and the cooperative continue to work with city officials in such a way that he said will hopefully get plans approved as quickly as possible.
“It’s frustrating at times having to contend with the bureaucracy,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest in getting these people back in, and city officials to smooth and quicken the process.”