TODAY   |  April 29, 2013

6 months after Sandy, Breezy Point still struggles

For the tight-knit community of Breezy Point in Queens, Hurricane Sandy brought not just one disaster, but three: a massive storm, flooding, and a six-alarm fire. Now, six months later, the residents are only just beginning to put their community back together. TODAY’s Willie Geist reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> to a community still picking up the peas six months after the devastation of super storm sandy. willie geist is in rockaway beach , one of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the storm. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning to you. this is the rockaways, an 11-mile peninsula that stretches with the atlantic ocean to the south just hammered by super storm sandy. about four miles from where i am standing in the rockaways is breezy point made infamous that night for the giant fire that swept through a community built by and for firefighters now reduced to ruins.

>> not a single house here that was unaffected.

>> we are never coming back.

>> before water and fire ripped a pardon breezy point, not much else could.

>> everybody knows and looks out for each other. noplace i have ever lived is like this.

>> it's the kind of place where you go to the beach and you don't bring a bike lock . you leave your bike there.

>> breezy point is a tight knit working class community of beach bungalows founded by police and firemen known as the irish riviera . marty ingram's family is here since the 20s. he is the chief of the point breeze fire department as the firehouse filled with water on that october night, the chief went out to save his town.

>> massive fire was burned and 200 firefighters there trying to contain this.

>> we were fortunate we didn't lose the entire community.

>> sandy's 70 mile per hour winds whipped the fire from home to home. unable to cross floodwaters, they could only watch as their own homes burned to the ground. by the time the firestorm was over, 126 houses had been destroyed.

>> the biggest fear was someone dying. being the decision maker, i wanted to make sure nobody died because of a bad decision that came from this firehouse.

>> six months later, nearly 500 homes have been destroyed or slated to be demolished, leaving an eerie quiet where a community stood for generations.

>> one of the homes was a friend of mine who just came back from afghanistan. he loses his house.

>> in the midst of overwhelming tragedy, there were blessings.

>> my wife swears she forgot to take her father's ashes. her father is a retired fireman. she swears that her father's ashes were taken in the house. i guess i have to believe it too.

>> yes, a lot of the homes were lost, but the chief is proud to say no lives were lost in breezy point on that terrible night six months ago. i know you spent a lot of time in the days afterwards. it looks the same for the most part and they are looking for a lot of help and aid to come into this area.

>> the people knew off the bat this was not going to be something that happened quickly. i appreciate you keeping their story in front of our viewers. willie geist in rockaway beach this morning. up