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Meadowmere hit hard by Sandy

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Photo gallery

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Anthony Guastella looks out into his backyard with his dog, Shadow. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Leonard Zamiello, 92, cooks up breakfast in the Meadowmere home where he has stayed since Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Commercial fisherman Larry Seaman holds small crabs, which he has caught to make money following Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Anthony Guastella adjusts the curtains in his Meadowmere home. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Leonard Zamiello, 92, smiles as his granddaughter Jessica Guastella and their dog, Shadow, in their Meadowmere home. Zamiello refused to leave the flooded house in the days after the storm and slept on a soaked bed, his granddaughter said. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Jessica Guastella and her dog, Shadow, stand inside their gutted Meadowmere home, which was damaged by a storm surge during the hurricane Photo by Christina Santucci
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Larry Seaman, a lifetime resident of Meadowmere, leans against one his freezers, where he said the flood water rose above his head during Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Christina Santucci

The residents of Meadowmere and Meadowmere Park, two tiny waterside communities off Rockaway Boulevard, are used to flooding, but Superstorm Sandy was unlike anything they had ever seen before.

“The first week we were just running for our lives here,” said 44-year-old Meadowmere Park resident Gus Zervas.

A month after the storm, residents of the southeast Queens community Meadowmere and its Long Island neighbor, Meadowmere Park, are still struggling to recover from thousands of dollars’ worth of damages to their homes and businesses after the waters rose by what residents said was 8 feet above the street.

“It’s the highest tide we ever had,” said 69-year-old Larry Seaman, a lifetime resident of Meadowmere.

Hurricane Sandy hit the New York-New Jersey region from Oct. 29 to Oct. 30. It caused more than $65 billion in damage and killed 253 people, including 11 in Queens, in its travels through the Caribbean Sea and up the East Coast.

Zervas said he had expected to be able to ride out the storm, but when the water level began rising in his house, he left his home and got into the street. He said the water line was up to his stomach and within two hours it was up to his neck.

“It was a horror show here,” he said.

Zervas and others in the neighborhood ended up squatting for little over a week in the house of a neighbor who was in China at the time. When relief finally came to the small community, forgotten in the wake of devastation in larger communities like Breezy Point, Zervas was offered an apartment upstate. But due to the gasoline shortage Zervas chose to live in his powerless house for a week to keep going to his job at FedEx in John F. Kennedy International Airport. He is now temporarily living in an apartment in Atlantic Beach, L.I.

Seaman, a commercial fisherman, said he had lived on the peninsula during Hurricane Donna, a storm in the 1960s that killed 364 people and caused $900 million in damage, but the water during the October storm surge was three times as high. He estimated his outside refrigerators took on $25,000 worth of damage. He has been catching and selling crabs for bait since then but hopes he can get a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration to rebuild.

On the same street, 23-year-old Jessica Guastella and her 61-year-old father Anthony have been struggling to rebuild their now-hollowed-out shell of a house since her almost 92-year-old grandfather, Lenny Zamiello, refuses to leave.

“For two weeks he was sleeping on a soaking wet bed,” Jessica Guastella said.

She and her father did their own demolition on the house’s interiors and have fixed the roof. They bought a new bed and created a makeshift kitchen with an oven that only works as a stove top and a sink held up by two-by-fours, but more needs to be done on their house. Jessica Guastella has been staying in Atlantic Beach, but managed to get back to her job at Amtrak even after all her uniforms were destroyed.

“Nobody was safe from this,” Anthony Guastella said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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Reader Feedback

George from Business owner says:
What people do realizeis that the Nassau Express way 878, Rockaway Blvd and Rockaway Turnpike up to a certain point are the same road

Rockaway Turnpike is in Nassau County and intersects Nassau Expressway 878 heading Norht. Once into Meadowmere Park section of Rosedale Queens it becomes Rockaway Blvd also known as Nassau Expressway 878 ending were it splits into the Belt Parkway and accsess to the Van Wyck Expressway 676
Feb. 14, 2013, 4:39 pm

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