Residents of Bayview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a 185-bed facility located in Long Beach/Island Park, were overjoyed this week to find out that they would finally be allowed to return home. Prior to the storm, the residents were forced to evacuate and were relocated to other facilities throughout the New York area. With all facilities at overcapacity due to Hurricane Sandy, beds were set up in day rooms, dining rooms, and therapy rooms. At Bayview, the storm caused severe flooding and damage to the building with the water level reaching 4 feet. Yet the staff and management of the nursing home were determined to rebuild. The Department of Health gave the facility 30 days to reopen. However, demolition and mold remediation took three weeks. Facing an imminent deadline, the management of Bayview reached out to major contractors in the tri-state area.
Contractor after contractor declined to bid for the job, claiming it would be impossible to do such a massive project in only a week. Finally one company agreed to step up to the plate. Marstan Development set out on the herculean task of reconstructing the building. Stanley Hillelsohn, a partner of Marstan, said, “I have been in this business for 30 years and never have I had to do such a large project in such a short timeframe. However, once I heard about how many residents, like many others in the area, were displaced from their home, how could I say no?”
At any point in time, 75–80 workers were there around the clock and through Thanksgiving weekend. Demolition and construction crews worked back-to-back, rebuilding areas that were just demolished. Management worked around the clock coordinating the restoration of all major building systems. Everyone’s efforts were finally rewarded when the facility was allowed to be reopened this past Thursday and the residents started to arrive back home. One member of the staff said, “It was like getting our family back together.”
“It was one of the most challenging projects I have ever undertaken but at the same time one of the most rewarding,” said Hillelsohn. “One of the things that I really get excited about is when I can give back to the community while at the same time performing as a construction professional. I am very involved in work for the klal—among other things as a board member and officer of the OU, as chairman of the OU Israel Commission, and board member of Yeshiva Tiferes Yisroel in Brooklyn—but to combine doing something good for 185 displaced patients while doing my work is really something special.”
After completing the Bayview project, Hillelsohn and Marstan have focused on helping other victims of Hurricane Sandy in the Five Towns and the Rockaways. Says Hillelsohn, “If your home or business suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy, we can help. Unfortunately for many, the damages inflicted go well beyond the capabilities of regular contractors and home improvement companies. We understand the processes and procedures required, and we have the expertise to lead you through the recovery process and quickly rebuild your home or business property.”
“We all must do whatever we can in these trying times,” says Hillelsohn. “I was davening Minchah this week at the Young Israel of Long Beach when a regular ba’al ha’bayis approached me in a quiet way and asked me since we are approximately the same size if I can spare some clothing because he lost everything in the storm—he was not even left with another pair of pants. That really affected me and I decided that I must do whatever I can professionally and personally to help. People who Baruch Hashem have insurance or the funds necessary to rebuild should call us and we will rebuild their homes or businesses reasonably. We have already started two homes and are looking to do many more. For those who are not as fortunate, we will be there for you as well. We have met with Achiezer and other organizations offering our services again to combine our construction expertise with acts of chesed.”
Coming back to Long Beach and observing the happy smiles on the residents’ faces as they returned, one could not help but be deeply moved. In the wake of Sandy’s devastation at least a few more people can sleep in their own beds tonight.
Stanley Hillelsohn of Marstan Development Corporation can be reached at 718-677-1808. Since 1982, Marstan has been involved in successfully completing residential, commercial, and institutional projects throughout the tri-state area.