Mom returns to Sandy-damaged Lindenhurst home
After what superstorm Sandy did to her place, 95-year-old Marie Clark never thought she'd see the inside of her home again.
On the eve of Mother's Day Saturday, flanked by her family, she enjoyed an emotional homecoming, entering her house in Lindenhurst for the first time since it was inundated six months ago.
After volunteers gave the home a $100,000 makeover, about 75 people celebrated Clark's return, with a Suffolk police department escort, a cavalcade of Copiague Fire Department trucks, and volunteers, family, friends and neighbors standing in salute.
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Clark stepped onto a red carpet with her walker before entering her newly renovated home on East Beach Promenade.
"There wasn't anything left in my house, so this is phenomenal," said Clark, who had no flood insurance and received no compensation from her home's insurer. "Where would I be without all you people? . . . Everybody had their problems, but they were taking care of me."
Clark has lived in the home for 55 years, worked as a nurse until her 70s and until recently drove a car, which was damaged by more than 4 feet of floodwater from the Great South Bay along with her home's entire lower level. The two-story home is where she raised four children and often entertained her 13 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, family members said.
"She left on a fire engine when we evacuated, and she hadn't been inside until now," said her son, Eddie Clark, 64, of Babylon, a retired contractor. "This is an outstanding Mother's Day present. I could have never done this. She really thought she would never come back here again."
The matriarch of the family lives on the same block as her three daughters, Joan, 74, Jane, 70, and Jean, 69. Since Sandy, she has lived with Jane, whose home across the street has been repaired. Only Jean is still displaced, relatives said.
"Marie is just a wonderful, heartwarming person, who has been in the community for so long," said Michael Gedacht, construction project manager for Syosset-based FEGS Health & Human Services, who coordinated with 15 companies to refurbish the home at no cost to Clark.
The reconstruction took about six weeks with the efforts of FEGS, Long Island's Hurricane Sandy Unmet Needs Roundtable, Robin Hood Foundation, United Way, American Red Cross, local businesses and volunteers, and others.
Carpets, kitchen cabinets and construction materials were donated, while community members, including the volunteer group Lindy Manpower, provided manual labor.
Kathy Rosenthal, a vice president for FEGS, said, "She's a symbol of the people who we are helping here on Long Island."