Picking up the pieces in Inwood

More than two months after storm, limited finances slow rebuilding


Inwood resident Laura Sarnelli tried to fight back tears after Hurricane Sandy devastated her Bayswater Boulevard home, but she soon realized that she was not alone in her distress.

“It was really rough and heartbreaking when you see your life piled in your driveway,” she said, “until I realized everyone around me was doing the same.”

Two days after Christmas, the community, which surrounds the Inwood Country Club and is just feet from Jamaica Bay, was eerily quiet. Some residents were busy rebuilding their homes, while other houses sat abandoned, their owners seldom seen since the storm hit on Oct. 29.

At the peak of the storm, floodwaters were nearly as high as the stop signs in the neighborhood. Fortunately for Sarnelli, her home is four feet higher than many of her neighbors’. “We’re sitting pretty high up but we still lost our washer, dryer, freezer, and my son lost everything in his room,” she said.

Omar Carrillo, a 12-year Bayswater Boulevard resident, watched four workers repair the back of his home from his pickup truck. He has been staying in an apartment in Valley Stream with his wife since Sandy hit, and he began rebuilding his one-story home a week after the storm. “Everything is being installed the same — we’re just reinforcing the bases and replacing the roof,” Carrillo said. “I hope to be back in my home in two months.”

To date, he said, he has received $10,000 from his insurance company for repairs, but he estimated that the repair work would cost about $200,000. “We don’t have any money to go anywhere else,” he said when asked why he decided to return to Inwood. “I can’t forget seeing five feet of water in my house. It was like a swimming pool. We lost everything, but being without a home is the hardest.”

On Davis Avenue, Michael Giordonello was busy ripping out walls, preparing for contractors, a plumber and an electrician to come and fix the first floor of the two-story home that he shares with his wife and three children. “It’s really quiet around here,” he said. “I’ve been staying with my mother-in-law in Inwood, but hope to be back in here in another month.”

Giordonello, like Carrillo, does not plan to rebuild anything differently. “Everything was outdated,” he said, “so everything is going back the same, but new.”

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