Trash and debris piled up on lawns and street corners in the wake of the storm.
But Palmese said he has never seen anything like Sandy. “We were kind of prepared,” he said. “We lifted everything off the ground, but we got about 30 inches of water.”
Palmese had planned to ride out the storm, but ended up staying with his brother in another part of Bellmore. Unlike Giammarino, he plans to stay in the house and has been working to make it livable by deodorizing and eliminating mold.
The ground floor of Palmese’s lifelong home will need to be redone, including repairs to flooring, carpeting and bathroom. He said he planned to apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and was waiting for his insurance company to return his calls.
“It’s all going to come down to money,” he said. “We want to get things fixed so we can live here.”
Although Palmese said that much of what he lost is replaceable, other Bellmore-Merrick residents said they lost possessions of sentimental significance. Marjorie Toback, of south Merrick, said there was two feet of flooding in her basement during the storm. While she lost thousands of dollars worth of food in two full refrigerators and much of what was in the basement was soaked, she noted that some ruined things stand out –– keepsakes from her daughter’s bat mitzvah, for instance.
“Those are memories, and all of that is now gone,” she said. “It’s so sad.”
Toback and her three children left their home, which “smells like a sewer,” to see friends and family and take hot showers during the widespread power outage. But she said she worried about getting back into the neighborhood because of the gasoline shortage across the area.
She spent hours on lines at service stations throughout the county with her teenaged children in the car because, she said, it was a warmer place to be than their electricity- and heat-free home.
“People keep telling me to leave, but I had nowhere else to go,” she said. “It’s like this everywhere. It’s like a party at local restaurants, because we see our neighbors, and everyone has the same sad story.”