Six years after Superstorm Sandy, Cornelia Johnson is finally home.
She and her son had to flee their home the night of storm, leaving behind all their belongings. When she returned three days later, she found her house of 24 years had been completely flooded. But even after all the repairs were completed and her home was livable again, it was still at risk of flooding in the next storm.
Cornelia, 67, was connected to Build It Back, a city-run, federally funded reconstruction program that renovates homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The program also elevates homes to protect them from future extreme flooding, and program experts recommended rebuilding and raising Cornelia’s home. But that meant she had to figure out a temporary housing solution.
That’s when the Center — in partnership with New York Disaster Interfaith Services — offered Cornelia assistance from its Temporary Housing Services (THS), which has helped more than 200 residents find places to live while their homes are rebuilt.
It had been more than 20 years since Cornelia had rented an apartment, and times had changed. In the past, she would have gone to an apartment-leasing office. She didn’t know how to search for an apartment online. As a senior, it’s more difficult: “I don’t navigate as well,” she says. THS helped Cornelia find an apartment to live in, secure storage for her belongings, and paid her rent until she could return home. Without THS, she says, “I would’ve been confused and lost.”
Build It Back recently finished construction on Cornelia’s home, and she moved back in. Her home has been lifted and fortified to be more resilient — and she is excited to start over on more solid ground.