Like many of his neighbors, Ed Andersen, whose Babylon home was damaged during superstorm Sandy, has struggled to recover. The 56-year-old and his daughter, Gabby, 24, have not slept in their own beds since the storm. He’s also been depending on funds from permanent disability, which he gets following a second bout with cancer.
Despite his health and financial situation, Andersen volunteered with Neighbors Supporting Neighbors Babylon to help his community.
On Sunday, his neighbors returned the favor. They joined forces with United Way of Long Island to get volunteers and resources to help demolish his old home to make way for a new energy-efficient home in its place.
“To watch somebody in this much need of help get the help he needed was pretty much astounding,” said Andersen’s neighbor, 45-year-old Charlie Spinella. After the storm, Andersen helped Spinella work on his home.
It wasn’t until after Sandy that Spinella and other community members learned about Andersen’s illness. He was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in 2003 and prescribed a chemo-type drug. He went into remission in 2004, but the cancer came back stronger in 2011. The side effects from the higher dosage of medicine put the cancer in remission, but prevented him from continuing work as an electrical engineer. He was placed on permanent disability before Sandy.
“He’s been helping us, unloading trucks and handing out supplies,” said Theresa DePietto-Roesler, 43, president of Neighbors Supporting Neighbors. “All this while he had leukemia.”
With funds from insurance and New York Rising, the state’s community reconstruction program not enough for Andersen to rebuild his home, Lindy Manpower, a nonprofit organization that helps rebuild homes after Sandy, volunteered to help clear debris and will help rebuild once contractors finish planning.
The new home will be energy efficient and built at a height to survive another storm.
On Sunday, Volunteers called “The Grill” made hamburgers and hot dogs for volunteers and friends and a flash mob from Long Island Flash Mob Organization performed “All Star.”
“There’s so many other people who need this,” said Andersen. “Everyone needs to know there are people who are still not home.”