Sandy survivors sticking it out in heavily battered Long Beach

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That was when the Isaacses decided they had to leave their home. But they said they did not want to go far in order to be close to the house as a construction crew tore out the walls and floors. So they rented the RV, a 25-footer with a tiny bed that forces the couple to sleep on their sides and a propane stove that they could cook on if they wanted to, but they don’t. They’re worried about the smell and humidity that cooking would create inside their cramped space, which they share with their two cats, who have made themselves at home in a luggage compartment above the front seats.

The Isaacses lost both of their minivans in Sandy. Before the storm, Ralph drove one of them onto his front lawn, which is three feet above the street. He thought it would be safe there. It wasn’t. An insurance company representative came with a tow truck last Thursday to collect it. Muddy tire tracks mark where it had been.

Dead cars are scattered throughout the Isaacses’ neighborhood, which is halfway between the Long Beach Medical Center to the north and the east end of the city’s famous boardwalk to the south. The wail of circular saws can be heard in all directions. Wet carpets and drywall cover the sidewalks.

Weathering the storm

The night of the storm was hell for the Isaacses. As lifelong South Shore residents, they had seen hurricanes and flooding before, but nothing like Sandy. During Gloria, a Category 1 hurricane that buffeted Long Island with 95-mph winds and drenching rain in September 1985, floodwaters never reached two feet in the neighborhood, Ralph said.

Sandy, which struck under a full moon during high tide, was different. “There was six feet of water in the street, and I knew it was coming,” he said. “I could hear it bubbling up through the baseboards” before it rapidly flooded the Isaacses’ home.

At that point, Jane said, “I thought, we’re in big trouble.”

She grabbed the couple’s cats, placed them on their perch and left a handful of treats for them. “I said, ‘Stay here,’” and they did, Jane recalled.
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