On the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Treyger kept that promise, bringing some friends along with him to Coney Island for a day of work.
Among those to help varnish and paint the fence in Batt’s new backyard were Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray, Borough President Eric Adams, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Councilman Brad Lander.
“Today is a day of service,” Treyger said at a midmorning press conference before ducking back into the yard to continue painting. “Today, instead of speaking all day we got together and rolled up our sleeves and we worked.”
Upon seeing the mayor and his comrades painting her fence, Batts could only say, “I’m just tickled all to pieces.”
“Habitat for Humanity NYC has been a Godsend,” she said. “In the midst of all of the trauma and the drama I just want to say thank you to every one of you.”
Batts, a retired postal worker and anti-violence activist in her community, recalled the devastating day Hurricane Sandy rolled into the New York harbor, pushing water up above the first floor of her home and destroying the rental property she relied on for her income.
“We didn't think we would be able to escape,” Batts said.
De Blasio took heart from Batts’ positive outlook despite suffering through such a horrible tragedy.
“Her attitude was that in the aftermath people learned how to work together in a different way,” de Blasio said. “We have to think differently and act differently after Sandy.”
Though two years have passed since Sandy, there are still dozens of homes in need of repair around Coney Island, according to Habitat for Humanity NYC’s Acting CEO Alex Havrilliak.
“With so many families still seeking to rebuild their lives, it is crucial that New Yorkers continue to donate their time and resources to further our partnerships and rebuild ravaged communities,” Havrilliak said.
To date, Habitat for Humanity has completed 33 Sandy-related home rebuilds, with six more currently in the works.
When he first came to the property in July, Cruz said it was one of the worst he had seen. As it stands, the project is nearing completion, and he believes they should be able to finish up the remaining work in short order.
“We came in to find a bathroom with three or four feet of sewage,” he recalled. “I had plumbers come in and cover their faces and say, ‘John this is bad.’ And they're professionals.”