'I'm Still Standing."That's been the slogan for Long Beach since superstorm Sandy roared ashore, and it's about to become the city's unofficial theme song.
Barbara and Bill Lewis, a Merrick couple doing post-storm relief work, found an intact copy of the Elton John 45-rpm single of his 1983 hit, "I'm Still Standing," in the rubble of the battered city streets. Earlier this month they gave the record to city officials, who plan to have it framed to hang in City Hall as a testament to Long Beach's recovery.
The couple were helping with relief work on Thanksgiving 2012 when Barbara Lewis' husband "started walking over to me, and I saw him weeping," she recalled. He was holding the record in his hand.
"He said, 'Look what I found,' " she said. "It just touched me so much."
The Lewises said they thought of the song -- an upbeat anthem in which John exclaims "I'm still standing better than I ever did" -- as a perfect theme for Long Beach, which has spent the past 17 months working to recover from the storm's estimated $200 million in damage.
City officials agreed with the sentiment.
The record "serves as a wonderful symbol of our recovery," City Council Vice President Fran Adelson said in an interview.
The city hasn't decided where it will display the record or when, Long Beach spokesman Gordon Tepper said. The Lewises presented the record to the City Council during its March 4 meeting.
Recovery efforts in Long Beach continue. The city's 2.2-mile boardwalk has been rebuilt, its schools have reopened and thousands of displaced residents have returned home.
But work remains to be done, especially in the hard-hit West End, where a civic association reported that about 20 percent of homes are still empty.
Former Long Beach resident Colette Lee left her flooded apartment to move to Seaford, but said she hopes to return to the city. She organized the 2012 relief group that included the Lewises, and said the city's comeback is why "I'm Still Standing" resonates.
"Being a Long Beach resident, it really hit my heart right in the center," Lee said of the song.
Bill Lewis, 51, said he found the record lying on East Park Avenue, east of Long Beach Road, while filling garbage bags full of the mangled metal, shards of destroyed furniture, and broken toys that littered the city's streets after Sandy.
The couple said they haven't tried to play the 45 -- they don't own a record player -- but were impressed that it was in one piece after being thrown around in the storm.
"It was muddy, but it's intact," Bill Lewis said.
The Lewises -- both fans of Elton John -- said they kept the record for months, unsure of what to do with it, before deciding that it belonged to Long Beach.
"It could be a keepsake for all of Long Beach," said Barbara Lewis, 67.