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Hurricane Sandy: The aftermath

Post-Sandy tales of woe — and waiting

Sandy aftermath is an everyday battle


It has been more than nine months since Hurricane Sandy decimated Nassau County’s South Shore, but for many residents of Bay Park and East Rockaway, the aftermath of the storm seems never-ending.

“I just see more and more back-stepping,” East Rockaway homeowner Nancy Price Birnbaum said of her attempts to rebuild her Cali Drive home. “More and more rings of fire I’m going to have to jump through — and it’s a full-time job.”

Last Oct. 29, water reached Birnbaum’s front door and flowed into the garage, the crawl space and the laundry room. She thought the worst was over until, later that night, “geysers of sewage” began spewing from several spots on her first floor, including the master bathroom, the base of the staircase and in between the kitchen and living room.

Birnbaum, who has lived in East Rockaway for 20 years, said she was in shock after the storm, but had to leave her home because of the odor and the health risk. With housing assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, she and her 20-year-old daughter Elizabeth rented a home in Long Beach for three weeks before moving into the Best Western in Rockville Centre in late November.

All the while, Birnbaum was trying to get her home back in order but having little luck. Her insurance company denied coverage of the sewage damage, and after months of dealing with representatives from the National Flood Insurance Program, Birnbaum said she still has not gotten very far.

Her home has radiant heating, with heat coming from beneath the flooring. Above the crawl space, Birnbaum explained, are layers of plywood, tar paper, meshing, heating tubes, mud to keep the tubes in place, a thin layer of concrete and then flooring. The porous material beneath her flooring traps contaminants and mold, she said, and even though she had the area professionally cleaned six times, the contaminants and mold remain.

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