By John Burton
SEA BRIGHT – It’s not that far from Times Square to the borough, but for Leslie Morris and her family the journey will have taken more than 18 months.
The Morris family will be the recipient of a home, built at the crossroads of the world, which will replace the one destroyed by Super Storm Sandy.
“I am just very, very happy and hopeful” over the prospect of having the new home on her Ocean Avenue property, thanks to the efforts of Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County, the local affiliate for the international organization, and Lowe’s home improvement store chain.
Volunteers from Habitat of Humanity and employees from Lowe’s worked March 19-21 on a project, called Hammers for Habitat, to construct the home in New York’s Times Square that will be transported to Sea Bright for the Morris family.
The workers constructed the exterior frame and interior walls of the approximately 1,400-square-foot, one-story home that will have three bedrooms and 1 ½ baths, according to Kate Nelson, volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County.
When the construction was completed last Friday, the structure was disassembled in sections. It is being held in a warehouse until workers can lay the foundation for the home, Nelson said.
For Morris, this marks the beginning of the end of a long ordeal to finally have her home back after it was destroyed by Sandy in October 2012.
“We would love to have them inside the house by the first of August,” Nelson said.
“That’s music to my ears!” Morris said.
Morris’ home, where she and her family lived for 17 years at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Marius Lane, was so heavily damaged in the storm that it was demolished last September with the assistance of Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County.
“We were hit really hard.”
When she eventually was able to return to her home to collect some valuables and personal effects and viewed the damage, she was “so overwhelmed I couldn’t even cry,” she remembered. “I couldn’t even process it.”
Morris didn’t have flood insurance, deciding to drop it after having paid off her mortgage prior to Sandy. She qualified for a grant under the state’s Rehabilitation, Reconstruction Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program, but it would have been insufficient to cover the total costs and that put rebuilding on hold.
“It made you feel uncertain about the future,” she said, as she tried to figure out what to do while living in a renovated housing unit at the former Fort Monmouth.
But Habitat for Humanity offered its help and with Lowe’s pitching in, “It’s the best I could have hoped for,” Morris said.
Last week, Lowe’s employees and volunteers in 10 cities, including New York, participated in the Hammers for Habitat initiative, using materials donated by the home improvement center company. They built 10 houses while raising awareness of the organization’s work.