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Sunday, November 23, 2014

An ark amid stormy seas
(Page 3 of 3)
Scott Brinton/Herald
Geltman treated two canine patients in All Creatures’ playroom last Friday. The facility’s examination rooms had to be dismantled to clean out and disinfect the hospital, where four feet of sewage backed up during Sandy.

Gelfand said that one client came from New York City to deliver Godiva chocolates as a pick-me-up. Others have brought baked ziti, soup and pizza. “People just care,” Gelfand said. “It’s overwhelming sometimes.”

He noted that the clinic is only a block east of Long Beach’s West End, a neighborhood of one- and two-story homes that were once summer bungalows, known as a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone else. Now, construction debris is piled so high in front of homes that the neighborhood resembles a war zone.

“We lost a business. They lost their lives. That’s not a relative comparison,” said Gelfand.

He said that he and Geltman plan to rebuild their business. “We’re going to douse this place and rebuild from there,” Gelfand said. “The power washers are waiting.”

And, he said, they’re hurrying to get the business back to normal so they can rehire the employees they had to temporarily lay off because they no longer have the facilities they did, such as their kennel. Before the storm, they had 28 employees. Now they are down to seven.

One of those who stayed on is Monique Entes, a veterinary technician whose West End home was destroyed by floodwaters. “I lost one home,” said Entes, her voice tinged with sorrow. Of All Creatures, she added, “I lost a second home.”

When she first arrived at the hospital after the storm, she said, “I had to walk out for a couple of minutes. I just started to cry. I love everything we do. I love our clients. It’s been a lot of work –– 13-hour days. It’s worth it. I love this place. I believe in this place.”

“This town is going to come back,” Gelfand said of Long Beach. “We’re going to be what we always were.”

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