The blows from superstorm Sandy flooded waterfront homes in Lindenhurst, sent moored boats and sewage into the streets and disrupted residents' lives weeks before the start of the holiday season.

Yet while Christmas in the South Shore town was not ideal for many recovering from the storm's devastation, the holiday's meaning is found in the stories of hope amid the hardship, said the Msgr. Joseph DeGrocco Tuesday during his sermon to a packed and aptly named Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church in Lindenhurst.

"We all have our perfect vision of the perfect Christmas," DeGrocco said. "The reality might be quite different."

DeGrocco spoke of the exhaustion of families still displaced by Sandy, their lives ravaged by the storm's wrath, but said stories of hope and courage have risen in the storm's aftermath.

"Christmas shows us that it's in the things that are not perfect where we can find God most clearly," DeGrocco said. "Think about the times when we have felt God working in our life in between what we thought the ideal should be and what the reality is."

Kathleen Greenfield, a Lindenhurst resident, lives four houses from the water, where the damage was catastrophic. In many areas, soggy household items like furniture and discarded clothing are still piled up in front of wrecked homes. Greenfield said that after the flooding swept through her home, she didn't have heat or hot water for a month. She lost power for almost two weeks. She had to replace her floors, several appliances and her boiler.

But she still spent Christmas Eve in her home with her family. She even managed to decorate and put up a tree.

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"I was a little behind this year," she admitted. "I didn't put up as much decorations, I didn't bake."