Shocked residents of Breezy Point in Queens went back to their shattered homes yesterday and vowed to rebuild their dreams.
The Irish enclave in Queens was devastated by Hurricane Sandy and over 100 homes were burnt to the ground in a flash fire on Monday night.
The U.S. Census rated Breezy Point the most Irish neighborhood in America with over 60 per cent of Irish heritage. The area is home to hundreds of cops and firefighters and the community lost 32 men on 9/11.
Tim O’Reagan, who has lived in Breezy Point for decades, evacuated to stay with his sister in Bay Ridge. His house survived.
“Unfortunately, we learned that at least 4 of our friends--Congressman Bob Turner included--lost their home in the conflagration.”
O’Reagan was headed back to Breezy Point to inspect the damage yesterday.
Dave and Regina Hegarty told the Daily News that they had kept a home on Breezy Point since 1978. Dave is a retired schoolteacher and his wife is a retired guidance counselor.
Their cottage was reduced to rubble by the storm and fire but they too vowed to rebuild.
They met in Breezy Point as teenagers. They fell in love and eventually got married.
“It’s our roots,” Dave Hegarty said. “We raised our five sons here. They were lifeguards in the summer.”
“We’re going to rebuild even if we have to do it by hand,” Regina Hegarty said.
The devastation shocked residents.
"In all honesty, it looks like a war zone," Breezy Point resident Mike Long told a local news channel.
"It looks like during the night, that fighter planes or bombers came through and just bombed the entire area. It just looks terrible."
Linda Strong, 59, has lived full time in Breezy Point for 37 years, and had just renovated her home which was destroyed.
“I’m trying to be strong,” she told The News. “We wanted to build a bigger, nicer home.”
“We will rebuild again because we love the community,” Strong added.
Her son agreed. “We had it bad but we didn’t lose anybody,” said John Strong, 36, “We’re trying to take it one step at a time.”
Firefighter Kiernan Carly, 22, told the News his home was flooded but didn’t burn.
“It was a giant blaze. It looked like a war zone,” Carly said. “We were walking through 3 to 4 feet of water to get to the fire and try to find fire hydrants that had pressure in them.
“It’s a mess now. But it will look beautiful in a couple of months,” he said.
Hurricane Sandy Aftermath Video: Inside the Chaos of Breezy Point, N.Y.