Marking the 3rd Anniversary of Sandy: Rebuilding a Resilient Home

In 1955, Diane Hellreigel's grandfather took out a $500 loan to build their home in Breezy Point, New York. It was a quintessential Breezy Point home, tucked into the close quartered beach town, surrounded by picturesque scenes of the ocean and the towering skyline of New York City.

After many, many years and memories, Diane took over the house on her own. She became a focal point of the community with neighbors and friends populating her deck, greeted by her dogs as they danced across the windows at the front of the house.

But three years ago, those memories and gatherings came to an abrupt close when Superstorm Sandy ripped a devastating path. Diane's home, her community, were ripped apart with the winds and rains of the unforgiving storm. The pain of Sandy was multiplied when a fire raged through Breezy Point, in which 130 homes were burned to the ground. Diane's home was saved from the flames, but Sandy had already done enough damage to leave her home condemned.

Despite the chaos and little house that was left after the storm, Diane knew she would come back. Three years after that storm, Diane will soon be able to call that familiar address home again.

Efforts officially kicked off this week on a rebuild of Diane's home, with the assistance of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), the Portland Cement Association (PCA), and the Insurance Information Institute.

"We are excited to be a part of this project and public awareness effort," said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of FLASH. "And we've partnered with generous industry leaders willing to dedicate the resources needed to make this resilient home a reality for Diane."

The new structure will be constructed from an energy-efficient and sustainable insulated concrete form (ICF) wall system. Her new resilient home will stand up to wind, fire and waves. Building homes with non-combustible materials like concrete minimize the damage of fire and allows us a better chance to return after a disaster occurs. With the wide-spread destruction Sandy caused, the Portland Cement Association has advocated for using concrete to better assure fire resistance and safety of homes and buildings, and to meet coastal code requirements. Our communities thrive when, after a storm strikes, the residents and services can return to functionality as soon as possible.

Compliance will be followed to new guidelines implemented since the storm struck the northeast. Following the Design Flood Elevation (DFE) requirements adopted in New York, the home's living level will be elevated 15 feet above sea level to provide flood safety. The home will have a sealed roof system with closed-cell, polyurethane spray foam, a Zip-System roof deck, and high-wind roof coverings. A whole home generator will ensure that the home systems function even in a power outage.

Marking the third anniversary of the storm this week, the pieces are finally in motion for Diane to return to the home she will now be able to make new memories in for years to come.