Chris Weidman used the money he won in his second UFC fight last year to put a down payment on his first home. He has spent the past week inside that Baldwin Harbor home, trying to salvage it after superstorm Sandy caused thousands of dollars worth of damage.
Ripping out carpets where his two young children played. Tearing down walls that once hung photos of his wife and family.
"The whole first floor is shot," Weidman said Monday. "With all the construction and mold and stuff, we're not going to be back in the house for another five months."
The 6-foot-2 Weidman said the water level in his garage was chest-high. The water level on the first floor of his two-story home along a canal reached 18 inches in some places.
As superstorm Sandy hit Long Island last Monday night, Weidman was inside his home. He and his cousin, he said, were busy carrying furniture up to the second floor to prevent it from being damaged, or worse, floating away. Couches. Tables. Chairs. Whatever they could lift and fit up the staircase.
After the storm passed, Weidman and others including friend and fellow MMA fighter Gian Villante and their strength and conditioning coach Jamal Hamid, ripped out much of the drywall and insulation. Those nice hardwood floors, they're gone too. Weidman said he anticipated having to rip out the kitchen floor tiles and take out all the cabinets.
"There are some areas where the wall is gone up to 4-feet high," Weidman said. "Some areas where the whole wall is gone. But everywhere there are holes."
Weidman said he has flood insurance and is waiting for adjusters to survey the damage. He also applied for assistance from FEMA.
How bad was the flooding in Weidman's neighborhood? He posted a video to YouTube of people canoeing on the street in front of his house.
The undefeated middleweight (9-0, 5-0 UFC) was fortunate that his parents live just a few minutes away. They have power, and he, his wife and two children are living there for the time being. They basically are sharing one room, he said. Weidman, with help from his manager, Dave Martin, is looking for a place to rent temporarily while his home is being restored.
Despite the emotional and economic hardship of relocating his family while trying to salvage their home, Weidman has remained calm.
"I just see so many people have it a lot worse," Weidman said. "We have a place to go, so it's not so bad. There's nothing I can do about it, so I just stay calm."
Weidman rode the train into Manhattan on Monday to save gas as the shortage continues and the lines remain wrapped around the block. He left Baldwin for the first time to resume training for his middleweight bout against Tim Boetsch at UFC 155 on Dec. 29.
"I'm eight weeks out, it's time to get serious," Weidman said. "Now I have to get my head wrapped around that."
But don't mistake this as a pro athlete out of touch with reality. Far from it. Weidman and his wife used social media to organize a food and clothing drive this past weekend to help those worse off than him after the storm. Weidman said they collected "tons of clothes and food" at St. Peter's Church in Baldwin.
"It's nice," Weidman said, "to use what little popularity I have to do some good."