Sandy-ravaged Breezy Point rebuilds for soldiers

(CBS News) BREEZY POINY, N.Y. - When Superstorm Sandy ripped up the northeast coast last fall, no town was hit harder than Breezy Point, N.Y. More than a 100 homes were destroyed by fire.

Army Specialist Derrick Ross
Army Specialist Derrick Ross CBS News

Like other neighborhoods, Breezy Point has fought hard to recover. But not just by rebuilding -- they are also welcoming back veterans who've also suffered.

They arrived in New York to a hero's welcome: Thirty-six soldiers from across the country, all wounded while serving. Many of them are now amputees.

For four days, they'll get to see and do things they never thought possible, like scuba diving, kayaking and surfing.

"Oh this is amazing, it really is," said 24-year-old Army Specialist Derrick Ross. "I am just in awe."

Breezy Point couple marries after superstorm Sandy
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About two years ago, an IED exploded under his vehicle in Afghanistan. He had 17 surgeries, and during the 18th, doctors had no choice but to take his left leg.

"There are some days where you just kind of don't want to get out of bed and you kind of remember stuff like this [event], and you just get real fired up and just want to live," Ross said.

This experience was made possible, free of charge, through the Wounded Warrior Project.

Every year for a nearly a decade, residents in Breezy Point have sponsored the program. But last October, Superstorm Sandy nearly decimated the community and many, like Tom McDonald, are still recovering.

"My daughter, son-in-law and my new grandson are living with us," he said. "Their house was destroyed in the storm."

A veteran surfs during a Wounded Warriors event in Breezy Point, N.Y.
A veteran surfs during a Wounded Warriors event in Breezy Point, N.Y. CBS News

Even after all that happened, McDonald is still in Breezy Point.

"Despite our troubles -- our troubles will end. They have to live the rest of their lives with their disability, so we need to be here for them," McDonald said.

Much of Breezy Point is still being rebuilt. But on this one weekend, storm battered residents and these wounded warriors find strength in each other.