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In early morning darkness, workers prepare heavy machinery for the day as rebuilding work continues on the beach area of Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, N.J., Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. A large Sandy-related fire on the boardwalk in September has slowed progress in the area. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Superstorm Sandy survivors recall challenges of past year
First Published Oct 29 2013 10:54 am • Last Updated Oct 29 2013 04:00 pm

New York • The trauma inflicted by Superstorm Sandy’s fierce floodwaters was etched on the faces of many homeowners Tuesday, a year after the storm made landfall, as they recalled the challenges they have faced during the past year.

Rebuilding efforts continued throughout New York and New Jersey even as people stopped to reflect on what was lost.

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Sandy made landfall at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2012, sending floodwaters pouring across the densely populated barrier islands of Long Island and the Jersey shore. In New York City, the storm surge hit nearly 14 feet, swamping the city’s subway and commuter rail tunnels and knocking out power to the southern third of Manhattan.

The storm was blamed for at least 181 deaths in the U.S. — including 68 in New York and 71 in New Jersey — and property damages estimated at $65 billion.

A tiny tear trickled down Edward Chaloupka’s cheek as he looked out on Long Island’s Great South Bay and reflected on the year since Sandy struck.

"I woke up with a nightmare last night," said the marine mechanic of Babylon, N.Y., who lost his job and his home after the storm.

In the dream, Chaloupka saw boats drifting down the street. He said it has been difficult finding work as a marine mechanic because people are still fixing their homes.

"There’s not a whole heck of a lot," he said. "You’re fixing your house before a boat."

As for the future?


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"I don’t know," Chaloupka said. "I don’t know what’s going to happen."

At the Staten Island Ferry building, crews of workers still labored to repair elevators and escalators knocked out by Sandy.

Across the street at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, visitors were offered special pamphlets requesting donations to complete repairs on the electrical and heating systems. Photos showing the church in disarray after the storm are misleading, said secretary Diane Ricci.

"It was 10,000 times worse," she said.

Still, Ricci, who’s lived in lower Manhattan her whole life, scoffed at the idea that New Yorkers should brace for a repeat of Sandy.

"You can’t build a wall around Manhattan," she said. "This was once in a blue moon. ... It was the placement of the moon and the tides. That’s it."

Angela Morabito feels like she and her husband, Philip, have been on "one roller coaster ride after another" for the past year.

But she could finally see some progress Tuesday, as two dozen volunteers from Staten Island’s Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the St. Bernard Project from New Orleans installed insulation and sheet rock in her gutted Midland Beach house on the southeastern shore of Staten Island.

Morabito is grateful for the free labor. She had flood and homeowners insurance but lost much of what she was paid to an unscrupulous contractor who abandoned the job.

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