Mastic Beach from Michael Cusanelli on Vimeo.
The town of Mastic Beach was broken by Hurricane Sandy. Seaside homes lay in ruins, their siding torn off by powerful waves, hardwood floors covered in black mold. Piles of garbage stood in heaps on the street, filled with insulation foam, bedding, and clothing that had been soaked during the storm. Several massive trees lay in splinters, their trunks ripped apart by hurricane-force winds.
And more than three weeks later, residents continue to repair the damages done to their homes and their lives after the ocean tried to reclaim the small town on Long Island’s south shore.
“We got five feet of water here and we had to evacuate,” said Eddie Jansen, a homeowner in Mastic Beach who has lived in Mastic for over 20 years. “It blew down the double doors on my basement and just poured in. I used to have bayview property, and now I’ve got bay and ocean view.”
For Mastic Beach residents living directly on the coast, the worst flooding occurred when the initial storm surge broke through several sandbars off of the coast, flooding many of the homes directly in its path. Without the sandbars to keep the water of the Atlantic Ocean at bay, many homeowners received anywhere from several inches to eight feet of water.
“I took on a foot of water and had my backyard full of everybody’s debris from anywhere from Moriches to locally,” said Bruce Summa, whose home on Riviera Drive was rolled off of its foundations by the waves. Summa and his wife, Lorraine, were allowed to remain in their home, but were forced to remove all insulation and flooring from the house to prevent mold.
“Basically we’ll be left with a shell that will be down to the studs and the outer wall,” Summa said.
Many of the communities hit the hardest during Hurricane Sandy are also areas of relatively low income, according to the most recent US census data. Communities like the Rockaways, Lindenhurst, and Mastic Beach, averaged a lower than average median income per household, according to the 2010 census.
The average household income from Mastic Beach totalled just over $23,000 a year, with households in the Rockaways and Lindenhurst averaging $31,275 and $25,553, respectively.The median income of New York State residents was cited at $30,948 for 2010.The effects of the storm will most certainly make the cleanup and renovations in these areas more difficult for residents.
According to a report by Fios1 Long Island, over 100 Mastic Beach residents had to be rescued from their homes after Hurricane Sandy, while 200 more homes have been condemned for the foreseeable future. Many of the evacuees will never be able to move back into their original homes, while others will have to work for weeks in order to eliminate the remnants of the deadly mold created by the stagnant waters which invaded their homes.
“TV doesn’t give it justice, what people have been going through,” said Dimitri Katrivanos, a landscaper from Ronkonkoma, who was in Mastic Beach cleaning up the home of one resident. “I’ve been doing this [landscaping] for 15 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. It scared me to be honest.”
But while the damage to many homes was extensive, several residents were confident that they would recover from the storm, despite the terrible circumstances.
“We were hit pretty bad, but fortunately we feel we are the lucky ones,” said Lorraine Rimmelin, as she sorted through the remains of her waterlogged home. “So many people have it so much worse. We have something to build on, and we will build.”
A home in Mastic Beach still shows signs of flooding on Nov 10, two weeks after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Long Island area. Photo by Michael Cusanelli
Gus Hudo, a homeowner in Mastic Beach, prepares to go under his house to begin stripping away insulation foam covered in mold on Nov. 17, 2012. Gus’ home was invaded by two feet of water during Hurricane Sandy just three weeks earlier. Photo by Michael Cusanelli
Jim Brustad pauses inside his brother-in-law’s home in Mastic Beach on Nov 17 as he works to help remove the debris that flooded the home. During the storm, two feet of water invaded the lower floor, destroying the insulation under the house and causing mold to grow in the weeks after. Photo by Michael Cusanelli
A Mastic Beach home and its contents lie in ruins after the Atlantic Ocean rushed through it during Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Michael Cusanelli
A jungle gym lays on its side after being knocked down by the storm surge caused by Hurricane Sandy in late October. Homeowner Olivera Sagarese and her family were forced to relocate after their home was deemed condemned by building inspectors. Photo by Michael Cusanelli
A massive tree lays split in half next to a Mastic Beach home after falling during Hurricane Sandy. According to a report from Fios1 Long Island, over 100 Mastic Beach residents had to be rescued from their homes after the storm destroyed many homes in the south shore town. Photo by Michael Cusanelli
Furniture and bedding sit in a huge pile outside of a Mastic Beach home after Hurricane Sandy flooded dozens of coastal homes in late October. Photo by Michael Cusanelli