Childhood Friend Steps Up To Rebuild Charles Burgio's Home

LINDENHURST, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Decades after losing contact, a long-lost friend is helping a victim of Hurricane Sandy on Long Island.

Up until recently, Charles Burgio, 53, was living in the backyard of his Lindenhurst home after federal aid ran out before his house could be rebuilt.

Burgio had been staying in hotels for months thanks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But in August, the federal money ran out, and he was told to pack up and go.

Contractor Angelo Genova was childhood friends with Burgio, but the two hadn’t been in touch in 32 years until Genova learned about Burgio’s situation.

“One night, we were watching the news, and lo and behold, they said a Lindy person needs help,” Genova told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “And I see it’s Chuck.”

Genova was in Burgio’s wedding party, and Genova said he was upset to see his old friend unable to live in his own home.

“We gave each other a big hug, so we came in and we kicked it right off again,” Genova told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.

Genova said he and his team would work for a month to rebuild Burgio’s house.

“Definitely a total loss,” Genova told Hall. “Everything had to be ripped out. It was mold infested.”

Burgio’s problems, however, are not over. The repairs on his home could take months, and the donations to pay for his motel rooms — where he has been staying since his story received media attention — will run out this week. A local nonprofit has been trying to get him reinstated at a FEMA hotel.

That has Genova racing the clock.

“We’ve got to get his roof done and get him back in here,” Genova said. “Even it’s not fully complete, he’s able to live here on a dry roof.”

Burgio said he’s grateful his old friend resurfaced to help him during a tough time.

“I can never thank him enough,” he said. “And he knows if he calls upon me, I’ll be there for him.”

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