Hurricane Sandy havoc still felt two months later on Long Island: A long rebuilding process is still ahead for those affected by the storm

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Harry Paul

Science teacher Ms. Marla Ezratty is a resident of Long Beach and is still dealing with the aftermath and clean up of Hurricane Sandy.

Daniella Philipson, Features Editor

Homes are warm and sparkling with holiday lights, but it was not so long ago that Long Island neighborhoods were completely in the dark. Residential areas including Long Beach, Island Park, and Oceanside, were blanketed in darkness for six weeks following the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy.

Ms. Marla Ezratty, a science teacher at Schreiber High School and a resident of Long Beach since her childhood, said that Sandy was the second biggest storm she had ever seen.

“It started on Sunday and the biggest issue was that, as prepared as you try to be, you are never really prepared for the damage of a storm like that one,” said Ms. Ezratty.  “The first storm  that I remember was back when I was a kid and the flooding was so bad that my neighbor took his canoe and was rowing down the streets to check on everybody and make sure the families were okay. That type of camaraderie existed after Sandy and it was nice to feel the community come together, especially since it’s been continuous two months after the storm.”

Long Beach is not the only area still dealing with the massive cleanup after the storm. Areas such as Oceanside, Island Park, Staten Island, and parts of Brooklyn, among other places, are still in the midst of repairing. It will take months of work before these areas are back up and running.

“The first wave of damage came from the water, especially since many apartment buildings had underground parking garages that flooded with water,” said Ms. Ezratty.  “The second wave of dealing with the damage was removing the mounds of trash, throwing away ruined appliances, cutting out carpets, and ripping out sheetrock to prevent against disease, mold, and back water.”

A major issue across beach communities has been removing sand that blanketed the streets after high tides demolished the sand dunes.

“The sand is slowly starting to move back,” said Ms. Ezratty.  “One major issue is that the sand, due to the sewage system failure, needs to be sterilized or replaced. People are still working on moving cars and trash, which couldn’t really happen until the majority of the sand was moved out of the way.”

As of now, the majority of the trash is housed at Nickerson beach where it sits idly before taking a trip up to Albany. Once in Albany, the trash is burned, but this is a slow process.

“The amount of damage is contingent to the large amounts of sand that were moved in such a short period of time. After the storm, sand completely blanketed the streets and waves pushed cars blocks away from where they were parked,” said Ms. Ezratty.

“The monstrosity of the hurricane was the result of many things,” said Ms. Ezratty.  “First of all, it was a full moon, and it was high tide, then there was a storm surge, and to top it all off the wind strength was between seventy to one-hundred miles per hour. The first high tide was on Sunday and it breeched by 4:30 p.m. and the the bay overflowed. We lost electricity immediately. Then, on Monday night all of the transformers blew at the sewage center, and that’s when the problems really kicked in.”

“It took three weeks before we were able to flush our toilets,” said Ms. Ezratty.  “Hot water came back the following Tuesday, but even then none of the water was drinkable. I didn’t have electricity back until the first week of December, and from there heat and gas followed by quickly.”

Since then, the biggest reality check for many hurricane victims has been dealing with the insurance companies and FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was created to assist in natural disasters.

The majority of schools in Long Beach and Island Park have been displaced, with students relocated to other schools. In these situations, the makeshift schools are housing double the amout of grades that a typical school would hold.

“It’s been difficult to get back into normal living after being displaced for so long,” said Ms. Ezratty.  “This whole experience has definitely made people aware of 1800s living.  It makes you grateful for the little things. It is nice to come home, flip the light switch, and actually have the lights turn on!”