Five Years After Superstorm Sandy: Lindenhurst Still Struggles But The Community Is Stronger

By Christopher Birsner and Jessica Jahn

LINDENHURST, NY —- Lindenhurst is still feeling the effects, both financially and emotionally, of Superstorm Sandy since the storm hit five years ago on October 29, 2012. From the outside looking in, the village looks back to its normal self. However, some are still suffering to this day.

Jenna Macri, whose family lives in Lindenhurst, was at the forefront of the storm. Her home, like many others, was severely damaged by flooding. They had to throw away many items. “I was living in a suitcase for four months,” said Macri.

While her home was not destroyed completely, they still needed as much relief as possible from their insurance. Independent adjusters estimated that they should get $250,000 in insurance money. However, the insurance has not paid the full amount. “The [insurance] company paid out the first $83,000 and then refused to release the rest,” said Macri. The insurance wanted to only pay for the sheetrock that would raise the house three-feet off the ground but walls needed to be taken down to avoid mold.

“You realize what you need to live. You need family. You don’t need things.”

Soon after the storm, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a statement requiring homes to be raised two feet above base flood elevation depending on the location of the home relative to the water. According to village clerk Douglas Madlon, around 300 homes have been raised since Sandy, but there are still plenty of homes that are still waiting for funds to start the elevation process.

Some were not lucky to get their house back as there were 42 homes beyond repair. These properties were bought out by FEMA and given back to the village. Other properties were bought out because the owners did not want to or could not financially raise their homes to meet regulations. These properties were bought out by the state and then auctioned off.

One of many Lindenhurst lots that were auctioned off after Superstorm Sandy (Credit: Chris Birsner)

The Village of Lindenhurst was granted $4.4 million in total to help rebuild the town. $3.1 million was provided by FEMA, $1 million from insurance, and $300,000 came from state funding. “We had to rebuild our entire electrical system at Shore Road Park,” said Madlon, “The ball field lights just blew up. Getting people’s electricity back was our priority, as well as getting their gas back on. People went almost two weeks without electricity.”

Jackie Milton, the co-founder of the Lindenhurst Beautification After Sandy project, has been a resident of the town for 64 years and a prime example of how the community came together after the storm. Milton worked with many residents and volunteers from all over Long Island to help bring the beauty back to Lindenhurst. They worked on 75 homes in total, raking leaves and bundling twigs in each yard. In the spring, the group returned to the homes with pots and flowers. Many in the community were thankful for the project’s service.

“It’s my home. […] This is my community,” Milton said, “It’s a close knit community. We really pulled together. […] There’s a lot more to do.”

Email:I just wanted to pass a thank you to everyone that was involved in the Lindenhurst beautification project. Not…

Posted by Lindenhurst Beautification After Sandy on Monday, May 20, 2013

Donna Serrantino-FazioA big THANK YOU to Lindenhurst beautification and the Lindenhurst Rotary club for the beautiful…

Posted by Lindenhurst Beautification After Sandy on Monday, May 20, 2013

As the fifth anniversary of the storm approaches, Jenna Macri reflects on how her life drastically changed.

“No one on my block really talked to each other until after the hurricane, now we are all really close,” Macri said.

While the storm did damage to their home, Macri and her family’s spirit was left untouched. “The worst thing that ever is going to happen to me already happened to me,” said Macri, “It happened at 18 years old so now I know I can live through anything. I don’t know how to explain it, but after that moment, things don’t scare me anymore.

“You realize what you need to live. You need family. You don’t need things. My family and I are a lot less materialistic as we used to be. When you don’t have anything, you realize what you can live without. […] It was kind of the best thing to ever happen to me. It totally changed my perspective on life.”