First a flood, then a fire for Merrick Road business

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Now, though, the showroom is a sooty, grime-covered, lifeless shell of its former self, with plywood covering its windows. Town of Hempstead Building Department signs glued to the wood read, “Warning: Unsafe Structure, Do Not Enter.”

The road to recovery

Salcedo called Adler in the days after Sandy hit, hoping to keep her business going. “His response was, ‘This is your home, and we want you back, and let’s work together,’” she recounted.

“I was sick to hear her voice,” said Adler, who noted that he thinks of Salcedo not as tenant, but as a friend. “I didn’t even think twice. I said, ‘Pat, whatever you need.’”

Salcedo and her designers went to work immediately, carving out a 3,000-square-foot space on the west side of Republic’s expansive showroom. They redid the canary-yellow walls, replacing them with cool shades of blue, silver and gray, and set up an office looking out on Merrick Road. Then they began calling manufacturers to replace the hundreds of design catalogs that they lost in the storm. As the Herald went to press on Tuesday, electricians were hard at work, installing a big-screen television on which clients will be able to view design plans.

“I’m really concentrating on helping my clients and wanting to rebuild,” Salcedo said, noting that she has a team of contractors who are capable of entirely redoing a home. She added that she has clients across Long Island and in New York City.

Salcedo, who is married with two adult children, does not know when she will be able to return to the Dakota Design Center. It could be months or longer, she said. The time frame will depend, in large part, on how quickly the insurance company settles her claim.

Randi Satnick of Merrick, the design center’s events coordinator, said the showroom was more than a place of business. It was a community center. “We were very big on events, charitable fundraisers,” she said. “We felt very fortunate to have the space. It was our way of saying thank you to the community.”

Sandy and its aftermath, Satnick said, “seemed so weird and surreal.” She noted how the Dakota Design Center, a pristine showroom, “stunk of saltwater and sewage” after the storm.

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