Watch CBS News

Operation Blessing Int'l, IsraAID Helping Beleaguered Breezy Point Storm Victims

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The cleanup from Hurricane Sandy is overwhelming in some communities and it couldn't be done without legions of volunteers.

A shell-shocked Barbara Joyce stood by Wednesday as volunteers hauled out nearly everything she owns.

"I could just cry. I could just cry my heart out, but I'm trying to stay strong," Joyce told CBS 2's John Slattery.

The 77-year-old resident said she has lived in Breezy Point since 1940.

"The whole city of Breezy is gone," Joyce said.

Just a few blocks away is what is left of the storm-driven fire that claimed more than 100 homes.

Breezy Point is the western end of the Rockaway Peninsula. At Joyce's home, the work is being done by volunteers with Operation Blessing International.

"We focus on the uninsured, the elderly, the single moms, the families with young children, the handicapped," OBI's Jody Gettys said.

"They actually are a blessing to me...I don't know what I'd do without them," Joyce said.

Similar praise was being lavished on another faith-based volunteer group by 74-year-old Neil Devor.

"My basement has been destroyed -- my heater, my electrical panels, all the insulation," Devor said.

Helping him clean out were five volunteers from Israel's IsraAID.

"If we don't help Neil today, there's no one else helping him. So, there's a need," volunteer Nathan Lyons said.

Devor, a retired assistant police chief, said he plans to rebuild. Barbara Joyce, though, said she couldn't decide.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I can't even think about it," she said.

Many people in Breezy Point, some of whom have lived in the area for generations, have hard decisions to make.

Operation Blessing International, based in Virginia, says it seeks to " demonstrate God's love by alleviating need and suffering through international relief aid."

The organization has brought more than 240,000 pounds of food, water and paper goods for storm victims in Queens, Brooklyn and New Jersey.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below...

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.