Strangers reach out to help New York woman after superstorm Sandy

(CBS News) BROOKLYN, N.Y. - When Sandy tore through the Mid-Atlantic Coast, more than 650,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by water, wind and flames. So what happens after you lose almost everything? We caught up with a woman from Breezy Point, NY -- one of the hardest hit places by the storm.

When we first met Marie Lopresti eight weeks ago, she was desperately searching for anything spared by the fire that burned her home to the ground.

Watch CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller's previous interview with Marie Lopresti from October:

The only thing she found in the rubble was a charred fragment of a wine and cheese plate. But she was happy to have it. "Thank you, thank you!" she said with tears at the time.

Resident of Breezy Point, N.Y., looks for comfort in the rubble

We wanted to know what happened to Lopresti. We found her nearby in Brooklyn at a family house she used to rent out. It's a house now filled with gifts from family, friends, and even strangers.

Lopresti has been overwhelmed by the generosity of people from across the country who saw her story and reached out.

"They all send me emails and funny things for me to laugh," she told me. "They all ask about me, they call."

Some have even sent photos of her old home and copies of pictures they have of her family and friends.

But she was most surprised by a gift from a woman in Massachusetts. It's a replica of the plate we found the day we met her.

"She said she's 72, like me," said Lopresti, "and she saw me on TV and it broke her heart. She went and bought that, and she bought that so I can enjoy with my friends."

Every day Lopresti returns to her old neighborhood in Breezy Point, the place she called home for more than 30 years.

"I want to be there, so even if I can build a small house," she said with tears. Of her current residence in Brooklyn, she said: "This is nice and I love this, but I'd rather just have a bed, tables and chairs, and a couch and be there."

Lopresti said like the new plate in her cabinet, Breezy Point will one day be whole again.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.

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