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BEFORE. Prior to the makeover, and after superstorm
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BEFORE. Prior to the makeover, and after superstorm Sandy. The basement den of Joysetta and Julius Pearse of Freeport was flooded with 4 feet of water during Sandy. "The room had to be stripped to the studs," Joysetta says.(Credit: Joysetta Pearse)

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A basement makeover after superstorm Sandy

When Joysetta and Julius Pearse, 75 and 79, respectively, went to bed in their Freeport home the evening of superstorm Sandy, their basement was dry. By the next day, 4 feet of water had destroyed antiques, vintage records, antique cameras and recording equipment, and years of genealogical research. The couple, which founded the African-Atlantic Genealogical Society, lost decades of records. “It was our downstairs office,” says Joysetta, who is executive director of the Genealogical Society.

After such devastation, the two decided to redo the room as a combination office and sitting room. “I really wanted a place where we could work, relax and review the day,” says Joysetta, whose genealogy organization is now overseeing the African American Museum and Center for Education and Applied Arts in Hempstead. This time around, they’re not using the area for storage. Adds Julius: “Now, we have a real archival den where we can do historical searches and a place for me to write my book.” Total: $27,187 — Sylvia E. King-Cohen