Hofstra Pulse Magazine

Long Beach Local Bryan Murphy Helps Rebuild Long Beach After Hurricane Sandy

Bryan Murphy shows how one man can make a difference in the aftermath of a disaster.

By Lynsay Whitney

Bryan Murphy, 44, stands strong against Sandy’s destruction. Photo Credit: Ian Spanier

Bryan Murphy, 44, stands strong against Sandy’s destruction.
Photo Credit: Ian Spanier

After watching an elderly woman struggle to clear out the ruins of her home, Bryan Murphy, 44, of Long Beach, NY knew he had to help other Long Beach residents.

“Something came out of nowhere and told me to do this,” said Murphy while standing in an empty room that had once been a living area before Sandy demolished it on October 29, 2012.

On the first of November, Murphy created the Facebook page “Sandy Help LB” to reach out to storm victims who needed help with demolition and gutting their homes. The response was overwhelming. Volunteers flooded to help with the damage of over a hundred homes that Murphy connected with.

Originally from Rockville Center, Murphy moved back to Long Island in 2003 after graduating from The University of Richmond with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He began working in real estate about seven years ago and currently has offices in Wantagh and Long Beach.

It is his Remax Innovations Long Beach office that serves as a headquarters for donations and volunteers. Donations ranged from gloves and masks to crow bars for demolition to cleaning products and toiletries.

“Sometimes someone has to step up and get things going. I’m one of those people.”

The “Feet on the Street” movement was the first event that really took off under Murphy. In early November, volunteers went street by street, door to door, asking homeowners to circle any items they needed off of a list of supplies. Then, more volunteers put the boxes of supplies together and delivered them to the homes.

“People came in truckloads to help. Groups from high schools, colleges, offices; it was incredible,” said Murphy.

After initial supplies were handed out and the demolition of homes completed, Murphy decided it was time to look ahead and put the homes back together.

Murphy thought in light of the holiday season, a little picker-upper needed to happen. Thus, Operation Sandy Claus was born. The idea was to deliver stuffed stockings to Long Beach residents with donated goodies including gift cards, toiletries and handmade cards from school children offering strength and inspiration. Volunteers gathered at the Remax Innovations office to stuff and deliver the stockings from December 20-24.

“It seems like just a little something but I had one report of a home owner crying. I think little things like this can sometimes turn a person’s day around,” said Murphy.

After the holidays, volunteers continued to contact Murphy for more projects.

“‘Now what?’ It was the question everyone was asking me. But it’s not like it was thought out. There was no time to really think. I just knew it would work,” Murphy said.

So in January, he created a non-profit organization: Sandy Help Home Recovery Fund. The money donated was used to buy supplies such as sheetrock, insulation and other construction materials to begin rebuilding Long Beach homes.

“I am happy to say that donations have been coming in and people have been very generous. This money goes directly back to the local Long Beach area and serves one purpose: get people home fast.”

Once materials were collected or bought with donation money, it was time to find a place to put them. Murphy again turned to Facebook. He advertised on his page that he was looking for people who are displaced from their homes and want to return but whose insurance will not cover the extent of the damages.

Again, the results were staggering. Dozens of homeowners contacted Murphy asking for help. As of March, over ten homes have been remodeled and more are in progress.

“My goal is simple. Thousands of people in the Long Beach area have been displaced and desperately want to return home with their families. Many people need help financially and emotionally and need someone to give them an honest direction and solution to these issues.”

A home is chosen based on a variety of factors from finances to damage assessments. Murphy came up with a basic formula to begin the rebuilding of these homes. First, find two expertly skilled volunteers to lead the construction. Second, match them with four to eight volunteers who are willing to learn quickly and get to work. Third, rebuild.

“It was time to make something happen,” said Murphy.

Christine Fischetti, a homeowner from Bellmore, NY whom Murphy helped, noted how life after Sandy has been for her and her seven-year-old son.

“It’s been hard for me, but it’s even harder coming back and seeing pieces of my home. The big thing that helped me was after four months of getting nowhere, I know someone is going to help. It’s difficult to be by yourself. It’s scary and overwhelming. I’m so thankful for all Bryan and the volunteers have done.”

Murphy helped gut, clean and remodel dozens of homes. Photo Credit: Lynsay Whitney

Murphy helped gut, clean and remodel dozens of homes.
Photo Credit: Lynsay Whitney

Yet another program has evolved. New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology contacted Murphy hoping to help. Together, they named the collaboration FIT Design Your Home. The team of designers visit destroyed homes that have been completely gutted and sketch a floor plan for the entire home. They also help order and pick out materials to be used in the rebuilding. So far, FIT has assisted more than 15 households.

“I know it all seems like a drop in the bucket sometimes, but it’s important to realize that every little bit of volunteer service and help that people provide really adds up. Thank you FIT for making a difference in the Long Beach community,” said Murphy.

In just six short months, Murphy personally reached out to dozens of people in need and gathered supplies and volunteers in order to follow the motto on his grey cotton sweatshirt: “Rebuild the Beach.” But there is more to be done.

“Long Beach has a long way to go. I was overly optimistic. After five months, it’s still a disaster. But, I will do this as long as people want and need my help. It’s not in me to quit,” Murphy said.

Murphy was awarded for his non-profit organization, Sandy Help LB.  Photo Credit: Bryan Murphy

Murphy was awarded for his non-profit organization, Sandy Help LB.
Photo Credit: Bryan Murphy

Comments are closed.

Hofstra Journalism Student Magazine