Sandy victims still without a home

Displaced Five Towners lose sense of security


Moving from house to house has impacted every aspect of Woodmere resident Dror Zar’s life. He has lost his sense of security, he says, and now lives with the uncertainty of not knowing when he will return to his Barnard Street home.

Zar, his wife and three children lost their basement and first floor to Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29 and are currently staying in an Atlantic Beach home that they found through friends. “In a time of need, you find out who your real friends are,” Zar said. “But it’s only a short-term solution.”

Though the hurricane hit nearly three months ago, many Five Towns residents are still unable to return home. Cedarhurst resident Sylvia Bitton, like Zar, is also staying in Atlantic Beach, with her husband and five children, until her basement and first floor can be repaired. “It’s been very stressful,” she said. “We started renovations but had an issue with the electric, so we haven’t been able to finish. It’s at a standstill right now.”

Bitton is waiting to hear from her insurance company, and in the meantime has gotten a loan to pay for part of the renovations. “It’s been really hard because we don’t have an extra $100,000 available to do everything,” she said.

For three weeks after Sandy, Woodmere resident Michael Fried, along with his wife and children, stayed at his mother-in-law’s house in Cedarhurst. He ripped out the carpet and sheetrock in his Arbuckle Avenue home and had industrial dryers and dehumidifiers running for four days straight following the storm. “Thankfully, no mold was found,” he said. “We still have to paint, get carpeting and get our air conditioning system fixed, but our contractor is close to being finished with our house.”

Paying for the repairs, according to Fried, has been frustrating because he has been given no financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is waiting to hear from his insurance company. “We have received nothing and have been paying out of pocket for our contractor,” he said. “I filed claims with our insurance company the day after the hurricane, and I’ve gotten some money from my flood insurance, but they sent me a ridiculously low-ball number hoping that I’ll take it, but I’m not.”

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