Updated 01/07/2013 12:08 PM
Brooklyn School Damaged By Sandy Welcomes Students Back
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Some Brooklyn students were back at their school Monday for the first time since Hurricane Sandy.
The basement and first floor of PS 288 in Coney Island were flooded during the storm, and an oil tank was ruptured.
Students were relocated to IS 228 in Bensonhurst while the school was being repaired.
Joelene-Lynette Kinard, the school's principal, says it's good to be home and that she's satisfied her school is safe despite environmental concerns at some other damaged schools.
"My custodial staff has been right on top of everything. The building is warm. It's clean, and we're ready for work. Everyone's comfortable, and we're ready," Kinard said.
Veteran custodian Robert Drach called the last two months the worst of his life.
"Walls had to be cleaned or painted, the floors had to be stripped and waxed, furniture had to be clean, dusting had to be done, it was a mess, a total mess," Drach said.
The clean-up was even more challenging for Vincent Lembo who operates the school's boilers. He also lost his home in Rockaway Beach.
"It was like a breath of fresh air to come to the school today and have the teachers and the kids come back," Lembo said.
The DOE gave the school the green light to re-open after an indoor air quality assessment. School staff who spoke with NY1 said they felt confident it was safe to be back after being re-located for the past few months.
Assistant Principal Diane Martinez-Maben has deep ties to the school as it is named after her mother who was a community activist and also worked there.
"Our school custodian is top of the line and he would not have us back here if this building was not safe and healthy to be in," Martinez-Maben said.
Parents and students who spoke with NY1 also seemed confident in their return.
"This is a very good day for us. She is very excited to come back to school right here," said Diana Vale, a PS 288 parent.
"Yes, feel safe, it's clean, better back at home," said Jahquel Webb, a PS 288 student.
PS 288 had about 530 students before the storm, but expected about 450 back Monday because some left for good.