When Superstorm Sandy submerged Len Drive in south Bellmore last Oct. 29, it was particularly cruel to the home of David and Rona Weiss, who are in their mid-60s and bought their 2,450-square-foot high ranch in 1983.
Sandy’s floodwaters breached the Weisses’ downstairs, soaking their belongings in a pool of murky, brown saltwater. When Rona returned home after the storm, she found her wedding dress and album floating across her downstairs.
The Weisses’ cleanup contractor removed more than three feet of water by lifting a bathroom toilet and letting it flow into the sewer. When workers started ripping up linoleum tiles downstairs, they discovered a spider’s web of cracks –– some hairline, others deep –– radiating across the cement floor and up the foundation walls. In one section, the floor collapsed into a small pit.
The Weisses could not return to their house, they were told. It was uninhabitable and would have to come down.
Now it is gone, and their 60-by-100-foot lot is barren except for weeds. The couple are living in a rented house in Levittown, hoping to begin building a new home soon, but they are uncertain when they will be able to.
David, an attorney with an office on Bedford Avenue in Bellmore and the chairman of the Town of Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals, grew up in Bellmore and graduated from Kennedy High School in 1968. He met Rona, who was raised in Hewlett, while the two were students at the University of Buffalo, where they graduated in 1972. They married in 1976, after David finished Hofstra Law School. Rona, who majored in political science, stayed home to raise their three children, who are now adults.
The past year, Rona said, has pushed the Weisses to their limits. “You think you’re crazy,” she said. “You think this can’t be happening.”
An earth-movement exclusion in the Weisses’ National Flood Insurance policy, which they first purchased 30 years ago, has held up their settlement for nearly a year. Estimates are that the Weisses’ home would cost $430,000 to rebuild. Their flood insurance is supposed to cover $323,000 in structural and personal property damage, according to David. But Travelers has fought the claim virtually from the time it was filed, shortly after the storm last year.