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After Sandy, South Sixth Street Banded Together Like a Family

In the aftermath of Sandy, a damaged street became the biggest Lindenhurst family to help each other survive.

The "biggest family in Lindenhurst" on South Sixth Street. Credit: Scott Moore.
The "biggest family in Lindenhurst" on South Sixth Street. Credit: Scott Moore.
As Hurricane Sandy bore down on Lindenhurst, South Sixth Street was among the hardest hit areas along with the docks and Venetian Shores.

Ravaged by four-to-seven feet of water and a house fire that destroyed one home as well as threaten the entire block, the community was in tough shape after the storm finally passed.

But with a year gone, South Sixth is back on its feet. Homes are beginning to come back to life – some are remodeled, some raised up, some still in the process of getting the inside back to livability.

But they're getting somewhere, and the residents credit each other for helping to pull themselves through the aftermath as a family.

"We always had our own things going on, but it became a community after Sandy," said resident Denise Brusack. "We became more important to ourselves than our [extended] families. People don't get it."

"It was really quite an experience," noted Joan Masterson, a village trustee who also lives on the street. "We became so close, all of us. I can't really describe it."

Brusack describe the aftermath of the storm – a street heavily flooded, little electrical power and an uncertain future. Some residents checked approaching vehicles during the weeks after, only allowing those they knew that lived on the street or were relatives to keep potential thieves at bay.

"We stayed the whole time and made due," Brusack said. "We wanted to know who was here and who wasn't."

She added: "We never worried about looters. We knew who was supposed to be here."

The weeks and months afterward became a test of wills for the 40 or so people living in the houses on the very end of the street. Some had power, some had heat and some had places to sleep. No one seemed to have it all, Brusack noted, but they all got closer and helped each other through it.

"If someone had the power working, we'd be there doing wash – multiple families at a time," she recalled. "We had neighbors sleeping at other's homes while repairs went on.

She added with a laugh: "I have my neighbors pets right now!"

On Saturday, the biggest family in Lindenhurst came together for a "house crawl." The group spent 20 to 30 minutes at each home on the street, admiring the progress they made almost a year after Sandy claimed most of the homes' interiors.

House to house, the changes are different – some houses are completely finished with new kitchens, lighting and decor only months after the same rooms were gutted shells. Other homes, though, are still on the path to recovery – half finished rooms, boards in place of wood planking for decks and one home with a front door that has a 10 foot drop without its front steps yet.

The crawl continues for hours, ending like many days after Sandy did – with a huge driveway barbecue dinner.

And just like after Sandy, the South Sixth Street families are helping each other and making do – one helping hand after another.

"This place spent a year transforming," said resident Rachel Kreppein, who faced major surgery days before Sandy and had to be carried out of rising flood waters by her husband. "It's a brand new neighborhood down here, a brand new family."
Jackie Connelly-Fornuff, N.Y.S. Realtor October 29, 2013 at 06:08 PM
Now this is a fabulous story! They represent what community truly means.
ali October 29, 2013 at 06:40 PM
What we are all going through is very trying, but going through it with our friends and neighbors makes the entire situation so much more tolerable. We all carry each other at different points! Thanks Joe and Dee for putting this together!!
Patrice Costello Stango October 29, 2013 at 08:48 PM
what a positive story coming from all the negativity about Lindenhurst!

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