Chelsea Clinton stopped by the site of the Lyons family's new home in Far Rockaway Saturday for a ceremonial groundbreaking, nearly a year after superstorm Sandy wrecked the place.
The former first daughter said the new house, designed in a competition to be storm-resilient, will allow the Lyons' four children "to grow up in a home that is safe, secure, beautiful and affordable -- because none of those should be in contradiction to each other."
Clinton said residents in all communities vulnerable to severe weather "deserve to live in resilient homes that are full of dignity for the people who live in them today, and the generations that will live in them in the future."
She came as a representative of the Clinton Global Initiative, which was founded by former President Bill Clinton and organized groups committed to aiding the recovery.
Earlier Saturday, Chelsea Clinton joined about 100 volunteers to help revive a playground at Rockaway Beach, where 3 feet of sand and salt water dumped by Sandy killed scores of trees. Workers grabbed shovels to dig out the trees so they can be replaced.
The Clinton Global Initiative led the Louisiana-based St. Bernard Project, which was formed after Hurricane Katrina, and other partners to hold a design competition. The Lyons' new 1,590-square-foot house is expected to be completed in July.
It will be elevated and cost about $100 per square foot. The Lyons family has put its insurance money toward the cost, and the rest was donated.
Zack Rosenburg, director of the St. Bernard Project, said it's important to rebuild communities quickly after a disaster. "When the recovery is not prompt, efficient and predictable, parents lose their identity as caretakers and providers, children lose their identity of being in a safe place," he said.
Lintia Duncan-Lyons, 39, who along with her husband, Felix, and their children are renting near their damaged home, said she was excited about the new home.
"Our children's schools are here. We'd like to stay here," she said. "Devastation is going to happen; you can't really run from it."
Felix Lyons said that when the home is finished "we'll be happy again, and our family will regain a little peace."