It’s a peculiar thing about disasters. Even in the midst of tremendous destruction, no one wants to be a victim. People who lost their businesses will tell you about people who lost their homes. People who lost their homes will tell you about people who lost family members. People who lost family members will tell you that at least they’re still alive.
The tension is high at Reed Fedner’s Tutor Time. Perhaps as high as the floodwaters that recently flowed through the once-cheery day care provider. Located in the Harbor Professional
Center on Main Street in East Rockaway, Tutor Time was slammed by Sandy. The primary-colored classrooms and hallways, once full of the barely restrained energy of children, are now patrolled by grumbling delivery men, coffee-chugging plumbers and teachers conscripted into service sterilizing toys and assembling replacement
This story is being replayed again and again across Long Island, yet even in the midst of the suffering, it’s hard to find someone who considers him or herself a victim.
“When we first came in here after the storm, we though we’d been robbed,” Fedner recalled. This was because Sandy’s flooding had left an office safe lying on top of a desk — where a burglar might have placed it for easy access. Fedner estimated that he and his cleanup crews filled seven dumpsters with refuse 10 times and “didn’t make a dent.”
This is the second year in a row that Fedner, who has a stake in Baldwin’s Tutor Time as well as locations in Oakdale and Lindenhurst, has battled the elements. His facility was badly damaged in Tropical Storm Irene — an occurrence he thought was a fluke. “I don’t have flood insurance,” Fedner said as he bounced from room to room. “I never expected this to happen again.”
He tallied his personal losses on the morning of Dec. 27, and estimated them to be somewhere around $300,000. Of course, he said, new expenses are always being added to the register. A rainstorm on the evening of Dec. 26 leaked into the facility through the already soaked roof. Flood damage in many rooms was so severe that workers were forced to break through the sidewalls — and they cracked four toilets in the process.