Stories of Survival

Sandy survivors sticking it out in heavily battered Long Beach


Part two in a series on how South Shore residents are coping in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

In better times, Ralph Isaacs drove his family from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon in a rented RV. He loved living in the RV. Now he dreads it. For nearly two weeks after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the South Shore, he lived in one, parked in front of his one-story Long Beach home.

On Isaacs’s block, midway between the Atlantic Ocean and Reynolds Channel, floodwaters reached six feet when the storm peaked at 8 p.m. on Oct. 29, spreading throughout his once comfortable home, which he shares with his wife, Jane.

Ralph retired from teaching at Lawrence Middle School in June. Jane is a part-time nurse at Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center, a division of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System.

Now, every interior wall of the Isaacses’ home is gutted of its sheetrock and insulation four feet up from the floor, which was ripped out. The Isaacses are spraying a bleach solution on their water-logged furniture, hoping to prevent mold from forming, and eventually to dry it out, but they hold little hope of saving it. All of their clothes are hung on a garment rack in the center of their living room. Their kitchen-cabinet doors have been removed. A bicycle is out of place, resting against a family-room wall. And then there is their bed. For three days after Sandy struck, the Isaacses slept on it, without electricity or heat, as temperatures plummeted into the 40s at night. They thought the mattress was dry. Ralph called it their “little island” amid the destruction. Then one evening, they felt cold water against their backs.

“It took three days for the water to come up and meet us,” Isaacs said. The bottom of the mattress had taken on water in the storm, which slowly wicked up to the top.

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