Before & After: A Family Home Saved from the Storm

Before & After: A Family Home Saved from the Storm

Nancy Mitchell
Nov 17, 2013

Fred Toborg, a retiree who coached for 30 years at Manhattan's Trinity school, and his wife Barbara, a member of the Broad Channel historical society, almost lost the Queens home where they had lived for 28 years to October 2012's superstorm Sandy. The house, located in a marshy area on Jamaica Bay, took in four feet of water, completely destroying the first floor and all the utilities. When the couple returned to their house after the storm, they said it looked "like a giant had shaken it."

But members of the community and alumni from the Trinity school pitched in to help the Toborgs, and when Chip Brian, co-owner of New York construction firm Design Development, heard about the project, he offered the firm's services to the couple free of charge. Now the Toborgs' home is more beautiful than ever, and better prepared to weather future storms.

The Toborgs' kitchen now has new cabinets in keeping with the home's streamlined traditional look — but the new changes aren't just aesthetic. Together with student volunteers, the contractors from Design Development not only repaired the damage from Sandy, but worked to ensure that the home will be safe from other storms.

The team from Design Development and the volunteers tore out and re-built the home's entire foundation and first floor. They also replaced the electrical system, which was completely destroyed by the flooding.

The work included creating water barriers in the crawl space, applying antimicrobial treatments throughout the home’s water-damaged first floor, and incorporating flood vents into the rebuilt foundation walls. The wooden deck behind the home, which took a lot of damage from the storm, was also replaced.

Throughout the renovation, the Toborgs traveled or stayed with friends, helped out by their friends and family and the Trinity Alumni. They're thrilled to be back in their rebuilt home, and are grateful for all the generosity they experienced during this difficult time. "All of a sudden people started coming and helping. It's been overwhelming to have this happen," Fred said.

"We feel very humbled by it, and I'm very proud of my husband's reputation," added Barbara.

To see more of Design Development's work, you can visit their website.

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