Rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy three years on

(REUTERS) - They are armed with the tools to try to piece back together the broken pieces of Superstorm Sandy, three years after the storm hit.  

The home of Ms Patricia Stevens in Rockawazy, Queens, was one of hundreds of homes in New York City so badly damaged that they still await repairs. The storm swept in nearly 1.5m of water into her house, damaging her walls up to the ceiling, so much so that the first floor was unlivable. 

But Friends of Rockaway is changing that.

The non-profit organisation, operating under a project created to rebuild New Orleans homes devastated by Hurricane Katrina, is helping her build back what she once had.  Without the funds to move elsewhere during the repairs, she just stayed put.  

She recalls her decision to stay: "Where else am I going to go, paying rent high. My mortgage is not that high, so I figured let me stay."  

Thomas Corley, Director of Friends of Rockaway, says he could not believe the extent of the damage: "The first day that I walked out here, the first day that I walked onto this site, opened up the door, (you) could fall through the floors and all around the entire home you could see the waterline. It was telling. Nothing had been done and so much was left to be done." Friends of Rockaway started demolishing the Ms Stevens' house back in June and have worked consistently on the site for about a month and a half by now. "Our aim is to have Ms Stevens home before Christmas." he added.

A group of volunteers is working hard to make that goal a reality.  And they are certainly giving Ms Stevens a new lease on life. Says Ms Stevens: "After this is done, come on back, because we are going to have a hot party."