Families rebuild their lives after Hurricane Sandy
Two years after arriving in New Milford, several displaced Staten Island, N.Y., families have found a new home in the community.
In December 2012, 15 families victimized by Superstorm Sandy moved into mobile homes on a lot next to Faith Church along Danbury Road (Route 7 South).
They named their new home Faith Village.
The mobile homes and outreach were funded by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Tower Foundation and arranged in partnership with Faith Church and the town of New Milford.
The families were allowed to stay in Faith Village until Dec. 31.
Five of the families moved back to rebuilt homes in Breezy Point and Staten Island.
Others settled in the New Milford area.
Four families moved to New Milford's Candle Hill North Mobile Home Park. Candle Hill's parent company bought several trailers from Faith Village.
"We are very proud
of what we were able to do with these families," said John Hodge, the Tunnel to Tower operations director and a former New Fairfield first selectman.
"The greater Danbury area and New Milford for sure," he added, "did what New York City was not willing to do for their own residents -- allow a mobile home park."
Their sons, Ivan, 7, and Alex, 5, had nightmares for months after the storm -- nightmares that were calmed only by Kalahmikov spending hours teaching them to play guitar.
Today, they are among the families at Candle Hill. They expect to be in their own home in Washington by March.
"Valeriy taught the boys to play guitar to help them forget the hurricane," said Legeneva, a real estate broker. "Then we had them take lessons and, this summer, they performed at Radio City Music Hall as part of a charity foundation's show."
Children of the 15 displaced families attended Faith Academy, the church's school, with free tuition for 2013. Legeneva's and Kalahmikov's sons continue to attend.
"It is the best school ever," said Legeneva. "We like the teachers and are very grateful the boys were able to attend free of charge for a time."
They were living in shelters until they moved to the mobile home park by Faith Church.
"The hurricane brought a love story," Daino said. "Dennis and I met at Faith Village and fell in love. Here we are on the verge of starting fresh again at (age) 63."
In December, they bought one of the mobile homes and moved it to a lot in Gaylordsville, where they remain.
"There are so many people to thank," Klaus said. "We were allowed to live by Faith Church until we recuperated -- a one-year reprieve. We were accepted and our new life in Connecticut began."
Tom Lacy and his family read about Klaus and Daino in the local papers and offered to rent the Gaylordsville lot at a reduced rent.
Klaus has built a deck, laid a stone walkway to the trailer and Daino has added decorative touches. The couple bought a 50-pound salt lick for the deer that pass through their yard.
Both Daino and Klaus are retired, but she is a seamstress and plans to open her own business in the near future. During their year at Faith Village, she did alterations on clothes for the children there.
"We love being in the country," Klaus said. "The wildlife, the old forge on Brown's Forge Road, it's all so special. Now we're preparing for our next step: to buy a house of our own."