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Ex-LIers wearied by superstorm Sandy are wary of Hurricane Florence

Some sought refuge after Sandy and other storms wreaked havoc on their Long Island homes but despite living miles from the Carolina coast, they remain in Florence's path.

Tom Daniels in 2015 in front of his

Tom Daniels in 2015 in front of his temporary trailer home in Lindenhurst. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Devastated by superstorm Sandy's wrath, some Long Islanders moved south and inland but now find themselves smack in the likely path of Hurricane Florence.

Take Pamela Strobel and her late husband, Leon. The couple accepted a federal buyout for their Sandy-ravaged Lindenhurst home and four years ago moved to a section of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 10 miles from the Atlantic.

With Florence bearing down on the Carolina coast and forecasters making dire predictions Pamela Strobel heard before Sandy hit Long Island in October 2012, it's as if she never left.

"I went through a lot, and I'm going through it again," she said on Wednesday afternoon, speaking by phone from her home as televised Florence updates blared in the background. "It's not leaving me alone."

Her husband died two years ago, so neighbors are helping Strobel, 71, bring in the wicker chairs and couch from her yard and tie down the table set, chairs and barbecue. She's got a big propane tank underground hooked to a generator that can run for two weeks.

"I'm prepared for the worst," she said.

Like the Strobels, AnnaMarie Montoni and her family fled a waterlogged Lindenhurst for the Carolinas. Sandy tore the roof off their home, Montoni said, but she and her family moved to a second home in the village. After a freak rainstorm two years later flooded Montoni's home and nearly caused her to be electrocuted — along with her children, her pregnant sister and mother — Long Island could no longer be home.

“As I swung my legs out of my bed — my legs were in the water,” which was knee-deep, Montoni said. Then she realized the electrical system was shorting out. “I’m hearing a buzzing in my house … in the dark, I’m trying to hold my [bulldog's] head above water.”

Her children were just 5, 7 and 10 in 2014.

“Their bunny just had babies the night before, and I’m telling my children to ‘not be scared of the water on the floor … not to turn on the lights, Just to follow Mommy’s voice.' ”

Although the Montoni home in Concord, North Carolina, a suburb northeast of Charlotte, is a three-and-a-half hour drive from the Atlantic coast, forecasters warn that the massive storm could stall over the Carolinas, dumping enormous amounts of rain and creating life-threatening inland flooding. In response, Montoni and her family will retreat to a hotel on Friday to wait out the hurricane. They remember all too well the destruction of  Sandy and that second storm.

“With all this going on, I don’t feel as brave, I feel scared and defeated," she said, thinking back to how Sandy and the second storm eventually drove them from Lindenhurst. “We literally left with what clothes we had and our lives and we knew we couldn’t start over there. We didn’t have savings like that. We were a family of five, just making it.”

Shortly after they moved south, a sudden tropical-like rainstorm, not uncommon for the area, terrified her youngest, who screamed, "No, No, Not again,” she recalled.

Leaving Lindenhurst – let alone neighbors who rescued two of her three children and her bulldog "Diesel" — was painful, she said.  “All my friends and family are there.”

It was the winter snow and the slower pace of southern living more than hurricane worries that spurred Joe DiDomizio, 31, to leave Elmont two years ago and move to a home near Charlotte, not far from his parents.

He has plenty of Sandy memories and none of them good. After the storm tore a path through the Rockaways and Long Beach, the howling winds and sheets of rain hit Elmont, DiDomizio said, causing him to go eight days without power.

In November, DiDomizio bought a town house in Matthews, a suburb of Charlotte. Like the Montonis, DiDomizio settled far from the ocean, and also like the Montonis, he said he's concerned about the damage Florence could bring.

"I just put in new flooring and the homeowner's association just approved redoing the roofs in the complex," he said.

He won't be around to make an immediate assessment after Florence is gone. DiDomizio and his parents are getting out of their homes near Charlotte and heading to his girlfriend's place in Atlanta.

Sandy's damage forced Sue and Tom Daniels to raise and restore their Lindenhurst home. The couple, worn out by worsening bouts of coastal flooding since the superstorm, bought a town house in inland South Carolina, not far from the North Carolina border and moved in six months ago.

“We’ve had our fill of water,” Sue Daniels, 58, said by phone.

For now, the couple's hurricane precautions include three gallons of water and a bag of Oreos, Tom Daniels said, adding that depending on the storm’s track, they might be offering refuge to some of their relatives who live in North Carolina.

Florence has rekindled bad memories from Sandy, said Tom Daniels, 69.

“It’s not that we’re going to be taking it lightly," he said of Florence. "It brings it back."

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