Long Island struggles with super storm Sandy’s punishing effects


VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. — Six days after Sandy blasted the south shore of Long Island, Robert Brown’s street smells like low tide.

He lives three doors down from a creek that feeds into Jamaica Bay on the eastern edge of John F. Kennedy International Airport. During last Monday’s storm, he saw the creek water rise out of the storm drain and inch its way up the block like a killer blob of slime in a horror movie. In an hour, it was at his doorstep.

His 30-year-old daughter Melissa’s bedroom in the basement was submerged.

“How am I going to pay for this?” said Brown, pacing in his kitchen. He’s taken in his 90-year-old mother whose Port Washington home is still without power.


INTERACTIVE: Before and after Hurricane Sandy

But even as Brown gets more and more agitated trying to get through to insurance agents on the phone, he tries to keep things in perspective. His power is on and his family is safe.

“I shouldn’t be selfish, because I have a warm home,” Brown said.

Wet carpet is piled up next to the side door of his house. He paid a handyman $2,200 on Friday night to tear out the carpet in his basement to prevent mold and mildew from setting in. It was expensive, but he was happy to find someone to do the work.

Brown, who has sold heating oil on the south shore of Long Island for 33 years, doesn’t know if the effects of Sandy will send his flood insurance higher.

The neighborhood civic association has fought against FEMA officials for years to avoid being designated a severe flood zone.

“I’ll probably move before then,” Brown said. “I don’t want to go through this again.”

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