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Rockaway Park Friends Return To Homes Damaged In Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Nearly two years after Superstorm Sandy, two friends in a Queens neighborhood are finally back in their own homes.

As CBS 2's Elise Finch reported, it took extensive repair work and help from volunteers and each other.

"I was walking around on two-by-fours not that long ago, five months ago," homeowner David Lonergan said. "And everything is brand new. All new cabinets. All new appliances.

"There's no words to describe it. I mean, it's awesome. It's brilliant."

Lonergan lost everything when Sandy flooded his Rockaway Park home.

He stayed with relatives for several months while he started rebuilding. Then he was living in his van. Later, his friend and neighbor stepped in.

"Gerard Dunne saw me living in the van so he invited me over to his house, and I've been there ever since," Lonergan said.

Sandy's floodwaters destroyed the first floor of Dunne's home across the street.

The Vietnam veteran said he was still grieving the loss of his wife five months earlier, so he wasn't sure he wanted to rebuild at all.

But Dunne said that opening up the second floor of his home to his friend gave him the support he needed to get through two difficult years.

"Dave's a great guy, and we have a great friendship," Dunne said. "And it's always easier going through things with somebody."

On Tuesday, the friends celebrated their return to their renovated homes with some of the volunteers who performed the work, thanking them all.

"Someone was in need, and they volunteered their time," Dunne said. "There's nothing better than that in life. That's America."

The disaster buddies said the thing they're most looking forward to doing in their newly rebuilt houses is making a home-cooked meal.

"I've been living on deli food for so long now," Lonergan said. "To walk in here after so long and be able to cook a home-cooked meal for the first time in nearly two years in this place is just going to be awesome."

The homeowners credit the St. Bernard Project, Catholic Charities and Friends of Rockaway for donating materials and labor to get them back in their houses.

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