Good Samaritans rallied to help a Staten Island family whose Sandy-ravaged home was again destroyed by vandals just days before the family was set to move back in.
Nancy Fisher and Ruben Vazquez's Midland Beach home of over 35 years was destroyed in the October 2012 storm, and the couple and their children had been staying with friends for the past 14 months. During that time, Vazquez would work his day job then return to his Staten Island house each night to make repairs and rebuild.
The family was finally days away from moving back in when vandals broke in on Thursday. They had ransacked the living room, shattering glass, smashing holes in the new drywall and busting up the new refrigerator. They left beer cans, urinated on the floor and even destroyed the lone ornament on the family's Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
"I saw everything was devastated and I just broke down," Fisher said.( Fri Aug 29 09:36:13 PDT 2014 $__output )
When NBC 4 New York viewers saw the family's story Thursday night, they were inspired to wake up early Friday and help.
"My neighbor called me and he said some guy was here," said a stunned Fisher. "He drove like 100 miles to come down and see me and give me gifts."
Another woman brought the family a new Charlie Brown Christmas tree, which has come to symbolize their new beginning post- Sandy.
"Someone bring back my new beginning and it's going to be better than ever," said Fisher. "I believe that. I believe in people and I believe good things are going to happen."
Ross Decker of Yellow Boots, a non-profit group in Staten island, committed to bring in an army of volunteers Saturday to help the family not only get back on track but to move in ahead of schedule.
"We just kind of sprung into action, made some phone calls," he said. "We're shocked to see that anyone would do something so horrible and vile as this."
"Ruben did a great job putting together patches for a lot of the holes, but there's still a bit of work that needs to be done, and that poor guy needs a break. He's been up all night repairing his house," he added.
For Fisher, the heartbreaking destruction by a few has been outshadowed by the hugs, smiles, laughter and kindness of so many.
"Some people are rotten out there, but there are so many good people out there, they beat out the rotten people," she said. "We'll come back stronger, like we did with Sandy."