From the Brooklyn Eagle:
On a desolate stretch of sand and concrete rubble in a beachfront community, a lone home is rising amid the ruins of nearly 130 houses that burned to ashes during Superstorm Sandy.
Nine months after the fire tore through Breezy Point, a neighborhood of tightly packed homes in New York City, this house is the only one under construction in the burn zone, the swath of homes that went up like tinderboxes during the storm.
Rows of rectangular boxes sunk into the sand form a graveyard of wrecked homes. American flags waving feebly from the ground help mark where a street once existed.
"That fire zone is the one scar out of all of this that won't go away," said Kieran Burke, a firefighter whose home was destroyed in the blaze. "These aren't just beach homes. These are people's lives. This is a way of life."
A perfect storm of government inefficiency, cumbersome permit laws and general confusion has hampered the recovery effort in Breezy Point, which became a symbol of the storm's devastation after images of the charred neighborhood were broadcast to the rest of the world.
About 350 of the nearly 3,000 homes in Breezy Point were wrecked beyond repair from flood or fire during the storm. But while many of the flooded homes began repairs months ago, the people who once lived in the fire zone are stuck in no-man's land.
Some homeowners have filed plans to rebuild, but few have been approved by the city or by the Breezy Point Cooperative, which runs the neighborhood.
Some people are battling with insurance companies. Others waited months for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to finalize its newly updated flood maps, which put Breezy Point in a more stringent flood zone with higher elevation requirements. And still more are waiting for the government and the cooperative to approve a long list of permits and plans that stand in the way of starting construction.
If the city can give millions of dollars in tax breaks to developers to build along the shore, then why not these folks? This is true affordable housing.