NYC’s hardest hit communities reflect on Sandy 2 years later

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- "Today is they day it happened. It shouldn't have happened. But it happened," Joe Bianco said Wednesday while reminiscing about Sandy.

Whether it is in the midst of construction of Breezy Point or in the shadows of Totos Restaurant along Father Capodanno Boulevard on Staten Island, there are many who are still trying to get their lives back on the foundation it once was settled in.

When PIX11 News asked Nancy Levins if she thought she would still be in this position still two years later, the lifelong resident of Breezy Point said, "No, we expected to be in within six months. It's been a long haul, but we're trying." She then added that the whole experience has taught her patience.

What took place in communities along the water on October 29, 2012 was almost biblical, a night that will not be forgotten for generations. As he reflected on that night, Michael Crowe was counting his blessings in Midland Beach. "I'm lucky that's the way I feel. I'm lucky ... other people aren't lucky."

Lucky because as his family's home still stands, other residences are now vacant lots.

Bianco told PIX11 News from his new porch in Breezy Point, "I didn't think I'd ever get back in the house."

While across the way, his neighbor Brigitte Cheswick shared how she barely survived. "We spent the night here, so not good memories. We walked out at high tide and the water was up to here on us."

From the ashes, a new neighborhood has risen. The inferno from the night Sandy hit not only changed the landscape but also Cheswick's spirit. "I don't like it here anymore."

Nancy Levins expects to be back home next summer. She shared with PIX11  her satisfaction in the amount of rebuilding that has been done in the past year. "People are coming along very quickly. It's very nice to see."

And as for Bianco? He doesn't like being 6-feet higher than before. However, the preventative measures for future storms does provide a new view. "I watch the boats go by."

As he says, for him and many others, "It's nice to be back."