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Long Beach Couple Discover Benevolence on Buried Street

Workers clean up Michigan Street near Oceanview.
Workers clean up Michigan Street near Oceanview.
John and Barbara McCauley’s bungalow still sits just yards from Michigan Street beach. As Hurricane Sandy raged the night of Oct. 29, the ocean flowed down their block like a mad river, taking their front porch with it. Yet not a drop of water invaded their home.

They and their West End neighbors, though, were buried in sand that was once the dunes that were created to protect their streets and property.  

“The way it was going it was beginning to look a bit iffy,” Barbara recalled about the height of the storm lined up with a full-moon tide.

While John gave Patch a tour of their home of 40 years last Friday, before it was repowered that evening, he said that Barbara started to take covet porcelain pieces from the china closet to their attic. Although they didn’t know it at the time of the storm, the dunes probably saved their home from massive flooding. “I think that’s what saved us,” Barbara speculated.  

Once the storm settled, John’s Hyundai station wagon ended up in the middle of their sand covered block, a scene that ended up as a front-page photo of The New York Times. Visually, at least, Michigan Street appeared to be the hardest hit in the city.

During the eleven days they went without power and heat, the McCauleys found the greatest problem was the unknown. With no phone, Internet or television, the world beyond the West End was cut off to them. Later, during last weekend’s cleanup of their street, John’s car was towed away, its whereabouts unknown.

What the couple discovered while stuck in their neighborhood, though, was how benevolent people can be after a life-altering storm.

“People have been great,” said John, as an emotional lump formed in his throughout.  

He noted how a random father and son from Nashville, possibly from a church organizations that volunteers in storm-ravaged areas, brought him and his wife candy and soda and Band-Aids, and one of his friends drove from Putnam County to give him a generator. And John emphasized the Knights of Columbus lodge on West Beech Street, where lodge members gave people everything from hot food to cleaning supplies.

“I never knew that people could be so great,” he added.
Pat Caltabiano November 13, 2012 at 07:52 AM
I know this couple and live on Michigan Street. Barbara and John are what Long Beach is strong, resilient, good people. Our block is one of the most beautiful strung pearls of people I ever met. It is because of this we will rebuild and repair our lives. Yesterday 15 volunteers from Billy Grahms organization helped pull sheet rock and floors out of our home on Michigan St. It is the day my friend and neighbor offered help. That's Michigan St. Pat and Carl Caltabiano
Matthew Mathosian November 13, 2012 at 08:56 AM
John and Barbara are great! I live on the third floor of 985 Oceanfront Street behind their house and my apartment overlooked Michigan. The day after the storm in the mist of all the devastation John and Barbara came over to my balcony just to ask if I was ok and if my cat was ok who Barbara always watched sitting on my window sill.
IRISH 4 November 13, 2012 at 10:31 AM
The kindest of the poeple who came from far and wide is something I will never ever forget . watching the Knights cooking bacon and eggs ,Minnisota's having a barbecue all day with all the fixings Cabana having the bigges buffet and in the middle a famly with sandwiches and holding a sign FREE FOOD. people walking up and down the blocks asking if they could get us water or food or supplies . Just being there was enough. THANK YOU ALL !!
water guy November 13, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Living in the canals and very hard hit the people all around where as always there for help, we hauled things out of the houses, helped clean we even had a BBQ so we could eat as the rations we gladly got from the great national guard where providing, all told it still sucks here but we will rebuild and grow stronger from this mess(but will keep things much higher. I want to thank the great people from this area as well as all those that came far and wide to help us.things are still bad but we now have power and heat the simple things in life we forgot but will not forget any more. The police both LB and all others from all over where great, and crime was at a minimum. Stand strong and again thank you all for the help you gave, it will never be forgotten
Drea Crysel November 13, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Joe Kellard: Hi there. Very glad to hear everyone is still hanging in there and that neighbors are coming together to help one another. Could someone please get word to John & Barb M on Michigan st, I just read on http://www.longbeachNY.gov site that towed cars were taken to Lido West. John will probably find his car there. Have them call the city (516) 431-1000 for exact address. Thanks! :-)

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