NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a celebration 17 months in the making.

“You can’t really say enough thanks,” said Artie Crawford, director of the Bethel AME Church Food Pantry in Rockaway, Queens.

The pantry, located on Beach 77 Street, was rocked by Superstorm Sandy last year, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported. The basement space was completely filled with water from floor to ceiling.

“We thought it was just done. You know we really thought we’re not coming back,” Crawford said.

Bethel AME was denied insurance money following Sandy.

Then, four months ago, New York Cares stepped in and mobilized hundreds of volunteers to help the pantry back onto its feet.

With balloons decorating the ceiling on Sunday, pantry employee Cameron Shore admired the fruits of their labor.

“We’re done. (laughs) We’ve got it all finished,” he said.

The pantry serves up to 500 families each week.

Church members said resuming operations is a miracle.

“God has brought us a long way and it is really a blessing. It’s really WOW!”

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