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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Feeling displaced is the new normal
Hurricane Sandy jolts Lindenhurst family
Jeffrey Bessen

My family and I were in The Home Depot parking lot on the third Saturday of our Diaspora trying to move our Allstate claim along, when I realized we were barely 10 minutes from our house and we couldn’t go home.

Sure we picked up more clothes the following day to make our stay at my mother-in-law’s more comfortable, but I couldn’t open the refrigerator and pour ice tea into a glass. There is no refrigerator.

I couldn’t go upstairs, turn on the television, sit on my couch and watch sports as there is no power and my second floor looks more like the warehouse of National Liquidators as everything that we didn’t throw out is up there.

With my first floor gutted — sheet rock ripped out, floors gone — it appears we are building a new home instead of living in our house that was renovated 11 years ago.

Our house in Lindenhurst, like many along the South Shore of both Nassau and Suffolk counties, was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. It was the first time in 20 years of living there that the home was so ravaged by a storm.

Three and half feet of water in the laundry/boiler room that then seeped throughout the first floor about five inches high, which, according to our general contractor destroyed our wood floors, linoleum and tile as the water also oozed underneath to the subfloor.

The destruction I can possibly get over. It’s the feeling of displacement I am having trouble with. At first being told to evacuate and going to a hotel on the Sunday prior to the storm seemed normal.

But when we couldn’t get within five blocks of the small bridge that crosses over a canal in our American Venice community the Tuesday morning after Sandy that didn’t seem normal. Nor did only getting within two blocks of the house later that day. Nor did seeing police enforce a night time curfew.

Finally getting to the house the next day, surveying the damage and cleaning up seemed normal. But continuing to live in a hotel for three weeks and not being able to get hold of tradesmen for repair didn’t seem normal.

What became normal was worry, fear and frustration. My neighbors expressed similar thoughts. At least we were not alone.

Now, what some people like to call “the new normal” has set in. Calling the insurance company, calling FEMA, waiting for and finally receiving a call from your general contractor. It all seems like business as usual until you look at what was lost. Thank god not a life, but my life, as I knew it.

When will I regain my life? When I can drive to The Home Depot parking lot in Copiague and then go home to my house.

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