The lights went out and the floodwater came up quickly in Mary Ann Ungerson’s home in the Canals on Oct. 29. Ungerson described a dark, eerie atmosphere, as 10 homes that caught fire a block away lit up the night sky.
“That was really frightening,” she said. “I’m sad that my community, my home, is ripped apart,” she said. “If you live near the beach, yes, you expect flooding, but this was more than a flood. It was very scary to watch.”
The Ungersons, who were among the thousands of Long Beach residents whose homes sustained significant flood damage in Hurricane Sandy, are now staying with their daughter. Just a week after the Long Island Power Authority restored most of the barrier island’s power, Ungerson, a family and marriage therapist with a practice on East Park Avenue, was, like so many others, focused on rebuilding her home and dealing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, insurance companies and electricians before she can return.
“I’m waiting,” she said on Monday. “We restored electric and they’re installing a water heater, but the boiler may be in Saturday or next week. This has impacted a lot of families, and I’m sure that people don’t realize that they’re still in shock. I can relate to most people who are going through this; there’s a whole gamut of emotions. People are angry. Things are moving slowly, like restoring utilities that we take for granted. In addition to dealing with FEMA, flood insurance and homeowners’ insurance, now Thanksgiving is upon us, and that’s stressful for people.”
The city recently completed its preliminary assessment of damaged homes and buildings, grading them on a color-coded scale of green (OK), yellow (needs electrical work) or red (condemned). “Anything that was red tagged, meaning unsafe — 100 homes fit that category,” said Building Commissioner Scott Kemins. “If we deem a house unsafe, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be knocked down, it may just mean that it has a structural issues that may need to be addressed.”