MOONACHIE, N.J. — People came together in Moonachie on Saturday morning not to mark three years since Superstorm Sandy itself but to honor what came after.
Volunteers, runners and Bergen County officials converged at John L. Stevens Ballfield for the Race2Rebuild Moonachie -- featuring a 5K race, breakfast and a "zombie disaster preparedness" game.
In short, it was a celebration of rebirth.
"The anniversary is how everybody came together, how a town came together," Moonachie Mayor Dennis Vaccaro said.
The borough was one of the hardest-hit in North Jersey by Sandy.
The flooding came "like a tidal wave," Kenneth Reihl, the Fire Department chaplain, recalled.
"It was a struggle, seeing a lot of memories floating by and precious, precious items from relatives who had passed," added Domenico Dirienzo of the Moonachie Rescue Squad.
Along the course of this morning's race were 14 homes helped by Rebuilding Together Bergen County. Volunteers also worked an another home, on Daniels Street, that had lingering effects from the storm.
"I don't think everybody's back where they were before the storm," said Gretchen Viggiano, executive director of Rebuilding Together. "But we can leave some positive memories about how much the community cares for them."
Bergen County Executive James Tedesco thanked all the volunteers and people of Moonachie. Tedesco recalled how he went two weeks without electricity after Sandy -- but that it was nothing compared to the horrors others faced.
"This is why when I go around the state and tell people Bergen County is the best county in New Jersey, it's because of communities like this," he said.
Bergen County Freeholder Maura DeNicola said it's hard to believe it's been three years since she met people during the middle of the night, setting up shelters for the storm.
"So often we find that disasters like that bring out the best in people," DeNIcola said, "and also so importantly it shines a light on the incredible work that's done every day by groups like Race2Rebuild and Rebuilding Together Bergen County."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.