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Diner owners plan fundraiser to help storm victims

JohnRobert Marshall’s friend and his family in Queens, N.Y., following the devastating Superstorm Sandy. They are, from left, Emmet, Emma, Owen, Denise and Bob Esposito. Submitted photo

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By Jeff Widmer
Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, 9:00 p.m.

The devastation of Hurricane Sandy still resonates in the northeast and across the rest of the country.

And the horror of what a monster storm can do is nothing new to the residents of Carnegie.

This includes Dané Marshall, co-owner of Bob's Diner on Mansfield Boulevard in Carnegie.

Marshall grew up in Carnegie and was living with her parents, Jack and Mary Lou Frey, when Hurricane Ivan ravaged the borough in 2004.

Her parents were living at the intersection of Third Avenue and Diamond Alley at the time. Marshall will be the first to say that flood waters can have their way with a community.

“I would not call it ‘An act of God.' That makes it sound as if God intentionally did something to hurt us. I would call it an act of nature that was devastating. It was like a war zone at my parents' house. It was something we will never forget so when you see other people going through the same thing, you want to help,” she said.

This is what the owners of Bob's Diner will do later this month. Fundraising dinners are planned at the Carnegie, Kennedy and Imperial locations on Nov. 25, the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

The dinners will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Ticket price will be $10 and will benefit several families affected by Sandy.

One of those is the Esposito family.

Bobby Esposito Jr., 18, grew up in Breezy Point and is now an architecture major at Carnegie Mellon University.

His roommate is JohnRobert Marshall, the son of Bob and Dané Marshall.

“The main thing is that everyone back home, they all survived,” said Esposito, while recalling the number of neighborhood homes that burned down during the storm (111), including his family's house.

His mom and dad are now renting living space in Brooklyn, N.Y., he said.

“The thing about something like this, when it happens, you learn how strong people can be and how nice people are,” Esposito said.

Breezy Point is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. The community has a population of a bit more than 4,300 people; it is often referred to as the “Irish Riviera” because of its high Irish population.

During Sandy, Breezy Point was subjected to extensive flooding. By the early-morning hours of Oct. 30, the neighborhood was quickly engulfed in a spreading inferno, caused by downed power lines.

JohnRobert Marshall, or “JR,” said his college roommate is “an absolute testimony to the shear willpower of human beings.”

“Even with all of this going on at home, he stays here and focuses on his school work. It's incredible to watch,” he said.

Carnegie police Chief and part-time Manager Jeff Harbin knows full well what a flood can do to a neighborhood.

When Ivan had its way with several of them in his hometown Carnegie, Harbin admits he was “pissed off at what Ivan had done to my town.”

“But I remember looking at the sky the next morning (after the floods). It was so blue. The sun was shining so bright. It gave me a certain feeling, a feeling I will never forget. I knew my town would survive.”

Jeff Widmer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5810 or

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