LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Residents and businesses on Long Island continue to recover a year after Superstorm Sandy devastated many areas in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Evidence of Sandy’s wrath still remains in communities across Long Island. Nearly 100,000 buildings were destroyed in the storm, causing more than $8 billion in damage. Parts of the Long Island Rail Road were washed away and permanent repairs won’t be finished for another five years.
After the storm hit, Long Beach was almost unrecognizable.
“Sand covered the streets, houses were off foundations, trucks were upended,” City Council President Scott Mandel told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs. “It looked like the ending of a very bad war movie.”
“I think the most significant moment for me was when I saw approximately 14 feet of our boardwalk, with railing still attached, sitting in the Waldbaums parking lot which is a good six blocks away from the ocean,” Mandel said.
EXTENDED COVERAGE: Superstorm Sandy — One Year Later
But if you drive through Long Beach now, it looks almost normal, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
The iconic 2.2-mile boardwalk is back and better than ever and most houses have been repaired or rebuilt.
Long Beach resident Eileen Clark had 20 inches of water on the ground floor of her home and said the past year has given her a better outlook on life.
“I’m definitely more grateful and I realize the things that I have I’m very happy with and appreciative,” Clark said.
But as CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, serious problems continued to plague Long Beach a year later. Mandel estimates 15 to 20 percent of homeowners have not returned and many businesses remain vacant.
And some residents have struggled to put back together their lives.
“We can’t rely upon insurance. We can’t rely upon the banks. We can’t rely upon government,” said Long Beach resident Sam Gallo.
Gallo is among the Long Beach residents still not home, untangling a web of insurance and bank rules only to get half of the money needed to rebuild.
“We honestly believed we would be home by June, and we will be lucky if we get in by next June,” Gallo said.
The Deely family was in their third temporary home a year after Sandy. They had just started to rebuild and were still waiting for flood insurance.
“I have small children,” said Allison Deely. “I needed my life back; I just couldn’t fight them anymore.”
Sean Sullivan rebuilt his Swingbellys BBQ restaurant, but was still waiting a year after Sandy for all the customers to come back.
“I think it will be a long time ’til we are back to where we were pre-storm,” Sullivan said.
The hospital also remains closed.
“There are ongoing negotiations,” Mandel said. “We’re happy that they’re moving forward with it, we’re standing behind it, we’re pushing for it. We need it sooner rather than later; we needed it yesterday.”
But Mandel stresses the city continues to make progress.
“We’ve had new businesses come in to the city who actually were never here before, but heard about Long Beach, saw what was happening here, saw the resurgence and wanted to be a part of it,” Mandel said.
Long Beach City Council vice president Fran Adelson also expressed optimism.
“I don’t want to say everyone is doing wonderful, but new people have come. Store owners have come to Long beach; new people looking to invest here,” Adelson said.
And resident Kevin McAdams – who spoke to CBS 2 when his house was buried in 6 feet of sand – said the storm has reinforced as much as it destroyed.
“It proves when somebody gets knocked down, you really do have somebody to pick you up; that you really do have strong neighbors that are there for you,” he said.