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Remembering Sandy four years later

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Overcoming together: Lima Calbio of Queens attended the memorial for the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy at Canarsie Pier with her family from Canarsie.
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Out of the darkness: Neferti Garcia passed out candles during the memorial service.
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Rebuilding homes: Volunteers Kathryn Berger and Brittany Salmon cut sheets of drywall during the Rebuilding Together NYC event in Gerritsen Beach commemorating the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

The storm was no match for Brooklyn.

Hundreds of people came together on Oct. 29 to commemorate the four years since Hurricane Sandy devastated thousands of homes and families in Brooklyn. Communities prayed, held candlelight vigils, and used their hands to rebuild homes still in need of repairs. Volunteers from the organization Rebuilding Together NYC spent the morning working on five homes and three community gardens in Gerritsen Beach — including the home of one woman who was overwhelmed by the flood of support.

“It brings tears to your eyes that people are willing to help,” said homeowner Denise Garrett, whose home was damaged in the 2012 storm. “Back when Sandy hit, we had about eight feet of water that caused our foundation to shift, and I still get water in the basement.”

And it was an eye-opening experience for the volunteers to see all of the work that remains, said Tyler Toohey from the company Shawmut Design and Construction.

“It was difficult to see that people were still affected by something that happened four years ago,” he said. “It was a great day for everybody to be out and be a part of a community, and feeling the level of warmth from the community was pretty big as well.”

And more than 60 people — including choir members from Beraca Baptist Church — gathered at Canarsie Pier on Saturday evening for a candlelight vigil to honor the storm’s victims.

It was a show of community strength that celebrated the progress locals have made since the hurricane, said Lucina Clarke, the founder of the Canarsie Disaster Recovery Coalition whose own home basement took on 6 feet of water the night of the storm.

“We do this every year, because it’s a celebration of life,” said Clarke. “We all survived, but we’re still going through as a community after disaster. We light the candles to signify there is hope.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 7:40 pm, November 2, 2016
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