Joe DePascale had been an usher in more than 40 Christmas Eve masses at St. Margaret of Cortana Church in Little Ferry, N.J., but he wasn’t sure if he would welcome another worshipper after Sandy’s floodwaters rushed into the sanctuary last year.
“It was up in the air,” DePascale said.
But on Tuesday he was there to greet worshipers and take collections as church opened its doors for in the first Christmas mass since the storm forced St. Margaret to close for nine months.
More than three feet of water flooded into the Bergen County church last year, ruining the pews, floors and organ.
“You couldn’t walk up here because all you see was the beams and water that had gone down to it,” DePascale said.
When St. Margaret reopened earlier this year, it became a symbol of the community making a comeback, some churchgoers say. Many of the church’s 700 members, including DePascale, were also victims of Sandy.
“I had to live 9 days, no heat, no hot water and no electric,” he said.
DePascale said he was happy to welcome in congregates for the service the same way he has since he was 37 years old.
"I just felt like my chest was going to bust from being so proud and happy that it's back," DePascale said.