Family relies on relatives after Sandy
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Family has been the sturdy constant for Richard and Margaret Noe and their son, Nicholas, since their home along Freeport's Nautical Mile was devastated by Sandy's floodwaters.
During those first post-storm weeks, they stayed with Richard's brother, Kenneth, and his wife, Lisa, in Oceanside.
In December, they lived with Margaret's sister, Patricia Kelly, and her husband, Michael, in Long Beach.
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Since the end of the year, Margaret Noe and the couple's son, 6, have lived with her other sister and brother-in-law, Margaret and Wayne Esposito, and their two daughters in Island Park. Richard Noe, determined to keep an eye on their Freeport home, is camping in an RV in the driveway there.
Each of the four families had floodwater in their homes, to some degree.
"We're all in the same boat," said Margaret Noe, 48.
But the Noes had it the worst.
The house they have lived in since 1999 has at least $70,000 worth of damage, not counting the cost of replacing all major appliances and furnishings.
"We saved our king-sized bed. That's about it," Margaret Noe said. "We put that up on cinder blocks." She's grateful that precious photo albums and her son's toys were unharmed because she kept them in the attic.
The current living arrangement is, literally, a split plan -- both for the Noes and the Espositos.
Margaret Noe and Nicholas bunk on cots on the Espositos' first floor, which is habitable after initial repairs from damage of up to 3 feet of flooding. Drywall has been installed and the floor tiled. Their dog, Jeter, a whippet, is with them.
On the second floor are Wayne and Mary Esposito and daughters, Alyssa, 21, and Emily, 17.
Meanwhile, Richard Noe, 50, a landscaper, keeps an eye on things in their Freeport neighborhood that has seen many residents leave, and is on hand when contractors come to work.
"I bundle up in there. I've got three big quilts," he said, displaying the couch that folds out into a bed. He powers a light and a space heater with an extension cord that runs from the RV to the house, where electricity recently was restored.
This nomadic life has taken its toll.
"It's devastating," said Margaret Noe, who works in a dental office. "You work your whole life for your home. To wake up and not have your own bathroom, to [not] be in your own bed. Being on air mattresses on somebody's floor or somebody's couch.
"It's -- I can't even describe how it feels," she said. "It's very depressing. It's sad. You just want to go home."