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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, we keep hearing the refrain, “We’re all in this together.”
As CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported, one family from the Rockaways has proved how that works. Three generations – a mother, her six children, and 24 grandchildren, have come together after tremendous losses.
The family of survivors – siblings, wives and parents – remained together after being battered by Superstorm Sandy in their homes in the Rockaways.
“It was raging out there, raging. We were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, it felt like,” said Regina Carey.
Regina and Craig Carey are one piece of the huge family of six brothers and sisters, and 24 grandchildren.
Almost all of them live just blocks from each other in Belle Harbor, and have been left temporarily homeless by the storm.
“We’re spread out all over the five boroughs right now,” said Craig Carey. “We’re in Brooklyn, we’re in Queens, we’re in Floral Park, and we’re in Westchester.”
Sandy hit every one of the family’s houses, one by one. The storm flooded basements, knocked out electrical systems, destroyed boilers and heaters, and left memories such as wedding photos ruined.
“We saw all the embers coming, and we said, ‘We have to go,’” said Ann Coughlin, the second daughter from the oldest.
For Coughlin, it was not the flooding, but a fire. She and her family live steps away from what used to be the Harbor Light Bar and Grill in Belle Harbor.
Reduced to rubble, the restaurant went up in flames in the storm and ignited several other houses. Coughlin’s home was spared, but she was still devastated.
“And walking past my block and seeing houses on fire and my neighbors — they lost their houses. My God,” she said tearfully.
Past the fire and through the water, family members had to rescue their matriarch, Diane Erhard, 73. Home alone, she waded through waist-high water to get out alive.
“The water was so high, and the embers from the fire were going over,” Erhard said. “It was almost like a war zone, like you had to make sure that one of those embers didn’t hit you.”
Not lost in the all the work that still has to be done is the holiday of Thanksgiving. The storm actually brought this close-knit family even closer, and so this holiday, they have so much more to be thankful for.
“Everybody’s alive,” said eldest daughter Mary Moran. “It’s a headache going through FEMA. It’s a headache rebuilding your house, getting new boiler systems. But thank God. Thank God every child and every parent came out alive.”
Moran, her husband and three children live in Westchester, and have taken in the rest of the family. The one casualty is a broken food, but otherwise, everyone came out OK.
“I had to sleep on the couch two nights. I had to sleep on a mattress a couple of nights,” said Liam Moran, 10.
Now, the focus is on rebuilding in the Rockaways, because for these storm survivors, home remains where the beach is.
Do you have any stories of hope in the wake of Superstorm Sandy? Please leave your comments below…