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West Holme Couple Set to Return to Storm-Damaged Home

The Rusoffs started to gut their home on West Market Street two weeks after the storm. (Credit: Michael Rusoff)
The Rusoffs started to gut their home on West Market Street two weeks after the storm. (Credit: Michael Rusoff)

They are able to laugh about it now. Michael and Shannon Rusoff started merely to mop their hardwood floors the day after Hurricane Sandy heavily flooded their Long Beach home, where they remained after the storm.  

The reality, though, was that the house needed to be gutted and the couple had to move out, especially after a subsequent oil spill. Like many Long Beach residents, their experience of living through a rare, devastating storm left them searching for answers.

“You’re using Mr. Clean on the floor and, you know, we just had no idea what we were doing,” Michael Rusoff said.

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What are the first steps to getting your home back in order? What insurance companies should we call? These were just some of the questions the Rusoffs never had to ask before.

Two weeks after Sandy, Rusoff and his friend started to rip out walls and floors and tossed out all things storm-damaged, including the washer, dryer, cabinets and furniture. He and his wife then moved down the block on West Market Street to a friend’s house.

Their next challenge was getting money from the insurance companies. By early January, more than two months after the storm, the couple finally received a check that hardly met their recovery expenses. Rusoff dipped deeply into his savings and retirement accounts and put any other money he had toward cleaning and rebuilding his home. While several of his neighbors haven't even started to gut their homes yet, the Rusoffs may return home soon.  

“We’re hoping to move back in this month,” Rusoff said earlier in January, noting that he had started to paint his walls. “If we had to wait for the insurance companies, we wouldn’t be back for a few months.”

The experience for him and Shannon has been, to say the least, extremely difficult.

“It’s very emotional and very trying on relationships with people,” he said. “It’s just been all consuming, losing all your belongings. They’re just possessions and can all be replaced, but having your home just completely destroyed — the only thing that makes it easier, in a sense, is ‘misery loves company.’ You know, having almost everyone I know going through it in some way, shape or form, so you know you’re not going through it alone.”

Rusoff’s friends from Long Beach have moved away as near as Rockville Centre to as far as Connecticut. Many people he knows that have moved out of town are renters, and he believes they and the homeowners he knows will all return to the hurricane-battered city. 

“The renters can’t wait to get back to town and hopefully buy something because the market obviously now is in their favor, and the homeowners are anxious to get their homes back in order and get back to a normal life,” he said. “I don’t know anybody that says 'I’m not coming back to Long Beach.'”  

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Kasey January 24, 2013 at 03:37 PM
I am a renter whose apartment was on the first floor and was significantly damaged - having to be gutted completely - I can't wait to get back in despite the fact that progress is really slow (no rebuild yet). I know MANY renters who aren't coming back.
Joseph Kellard January 24, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Thanks for the comment, Kasey. Can you please email me at: josephk@patch.com.
marcy January 25, 2013 at 08:04 AM
Mr. Rusoff I admire your outlook. As an owner then renter I can say I don't think I'm coming back to Long beach. LB has been in my blood for over 30 years but I've lost everything and just don't think I'll "rebuild" my life there. I look at the faces of my neighbors and friends and while they try to smile and stay strong their faces say otherwise. They are tired, sad, angry, confused, overwhelmed, and some just defeated. Sadly, I don't see LB coming back to the way I once knew it. Maybe it'll come back better! Godspeed LB
Trevor Kent April 04, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Leave NEW YORK before it's to late..... Woops, too late@

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