Stories of Survival

An ark amid stormy seas

Merokean’s L.B. veterinary hospital survives Sandy


Part four in a series on how South Shore residents are coping in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Veterinarian Dr. Lee Gelfand of Merrick, whose All Creatures Veterinary Hospital in Long Beach was all but destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, finds hope in the stories that pet owners tell in the superstorm’s aftermath.

There’s the one about an older woman, in her 70s, who was walking her little Yorkshire terrier in Long Beach’s West End, not far from the All Creatures clinic, on the night of Oct. 29, when the storm struck Long Island with a vengeance. Suddenly the Yorkie went wild, yelping and dashing in circles around its owner, spinning her around until it ran out of leash and stopped. The woman was facing south, toward the Atlantic. Then and there, she spotted a massive wave, probably five feet high, barreling toward her.

The woman quickly unwound herself from the leash, grabbed her Yorkie and hurried to the top of a neighbor’s stoop until the water receded. She and her dog survived, but the wave could have killed them. The Yorkie had saved its owner’s life.

Then there was the one about an Oceanside animal lover who had taken in a feral cat, which was in a downstairs room when saltwater inundated its owner’s home. There was no time to rescue the cat. For two long days, the owner wondered whether it had drowned. Floodwaters blocked entry to the downstairs.

Miraculously, the cat survived. It was found floating in a plastic pan in the middle of the room in two feet of murky water. Startled by a flashlight, it jumped into the water, swam to the staircase and ran upstairs.

“It’s amazing how they find places to survive,” Gelfand said of animals caught in the storm.

The veterinarian laughs when he tells such stories. But there has been little else to find comfort in at the All Creatures clinic, the only animal hospital on the Long Beach barrier island.

The facility is open for business, but limited in the services that it can provide. Animals are seen in a playroom at the front of the hospital. There is no examination table, no advanced medical equipment at the ready. Vital medicines are stored on makeshift shelves in the kennel. Surgeries are performed in the evening at the A&A Veterinary Hospital in Franklin Square.

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