By Jillian Jorgensen Staten Island Advance
U.S. Army Specialist Brendan Marrocco’s high-tech Smart Home isn’t far from the ocean — and not at all far from The Annex, a Prince’s Bay bar that Sandy smashed to bits.
But somehow, the veteran’s home escaped the storm mostly unscathed.
“He was very fortunate,” said Frank Siller of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to the Towers Foundation, which helped build Marrocco’s home along with Building Homes for Heroes. “The Annex before him, the bar before him, got leveled.”
The home — outfitted to be totally accessible for Marrocco, the first U.S. soldier to survive losing all four limbs in combat — shipped less than a foot of water, Siller said.
“The Sheetrock is already torn out, and that was done immediately, and the property has been cleaned up,” Siller said.
But the house and its electronics came through the storm intact.
“Thank God, the house is fine structurally, absolutely 100 percent fine,” Siller said. “Just like a lot of other people, it’s still nonetheless nerve-racking because of the situation.”
If storms like this one only hit once every 500 years, Siller said, it should be fine — but the foundation is already discussing potential ways to protect the house in the future if storms like Sandy become more common.
“So many people called me on it and asked how Brendan was,” Siller said.
Marrocco wasn’t on the Island during the storm, but his father, Alex, stayed in the house during Sandy.
“His father, who is one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever met, was there protecting his house,” Marrocco said.
Marrocco is staying with his dad while the minors repairs are finished at the house, Siller said, and he was put up for a few days after the storm by Richard Nicotra, owner of the Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn hotels in Bloomfield.
The Siller Foundation has been busy in the wake of the storm — the organization has added helping Sandy victims to its long list of services, including helping wounded combat veterans and holding the Tunnel to Towers run every year in memory of Stephen Siller, a firefighter who died responding to the September 11, 2001 attacks.