Residents of Bayview Place thought of their small street on the Great South Bay as an affordable paradise -- a slice of waterfront living that made the day-to-day seem a permanent vacation.
"The house was such a pleasure," said Bill Ferro, 37, a chiropractor whose home sits at the corner of Clocks Boulevard and Bayview in East Massapequa. "That is why we live on Long Island. Once you get salt in your blood, it is very hard to get it out."
Summers meant boating and catching crabs with traps tossed from the back dock. Fishing and outdoor barbecues were cooled on hot days by breezes off the bay. Winter evenings, holding a warm cup of coffee and looking west over the water, brought views of spectacular sunsets.
Now, for at least four of the five Bayview Place homeowners whose houses sit directly on the water, that idyllic lifestyle is in jeopardy.
Superstorm Sandy's huge tidal surge, which in some spots along Nassau's South Shore measured 10 feet, swallowed the dead-end street that juts into the bay and is bordered on each side by canals. The water ripped out walls and shattered glass, sent appliances tumbling into the flood and tossed iron patio tables about like toys. Water in some homes reached nearly chest-high.
The residents said they feel beaten down and battered, much like the white siding torn from the side of Carla Smith's house at 3 Bayview Place.
"This was my house," said a teary-eyed Smith, 51, standing outside and looking at the gaping holes where windows and walls used to be. "This was my house, and I loved it."
The utter devastation on Bayview Place is a scene playing out for thousands of residents who live along Long Island's coastline, especially on the hard-hit South Shore. In Freeport, Island Park, Lindenhurst, Long Beach and Oceanside, the magic of waterfront living has vanished, replaced by toil and turbulence -- insurance adjuster appointments and mounds of paperwork, piles of household possessions on the curb, salvaging of photographs and valuables, bunking in the homes of friends and relatives.
Their life before Sandy, and before Tropical Storm Irene only 14 months ago, was something they cherished.
"I didn't think I could ever afford a home on the waterfront," said Peter Chaplin, 51, a physical therapist whose office is in Franklin Square. "It was a dream of mine."
Wanted 'beauty' of Island
Before moving to Bayview Place, he and his wife Lori, 49, lived in Franklin Square, close to his business.
Then, he said, "I didn't enjoy coming home and looking at a white vinyl fence. I said, 'If we live on an island, I want to enjoy the beauty of it.' "
They looked for more than two years in the East Massapequa area. When 5 Bayview Place went on the market five years ago, they grabbed it for $625,000.
The Chaplins had made dozens of improvements. They dove into the bayside life, buying a Jet Ski and later a boat.
After floodwaters driven by Irene, they made repairs, including new floors and windows. They listed it for sale, but still considered waterfront living.
Now everything is on hold. Peter Chaplin said the remains of their home probably will be flattened. He doubts he will ever rebuild or live on the water again.
"We'll never have anything as beautiful as this was," said Lori Chaplin as she stood in the upstairs of her home, shards from the shattered sliding-glass door crunching under her feet.
Sandy tore away walls on the home's first floor, and left a grainy, black mud underfoot. The dock was sheared off and floated away.
Two doors down from the Chaplins' home is what's left of Ferro's house. One entire side is gone, and the storm punched a massive hole in the back.
Ferro bought the house nine years ago, he said, sometimes living there and at times renting it. He spent nearly a year redoing the place after it was damaged during Irene, and had put it up for sale for $539,000. It was vacant when Sandy struck.
Friday, he waited for insurance company representatives. From his experience with Irene, he knows the drill and the myriad complications in getting money to make repairs.
"The real story here is, it takes forever," he said, referring to getting payments from the insurance company.
But the car that drove by in the afternoon held a code enforcement officer. Soon, the officer said, he would be back to tape off some of the homes, which are to be condemned.
"I really loved that house," said Collins, who works at Macy's and is staying with a friend. The picture windows looking onto the bay were blown out. He said the significant structural damage has made the home uninhabitable.
"I'm definitely in shock and am traumatized," he said. "I haven't been in that house for a week and I miss it.
"The view was so unbelievably amazing," he said. "It is just so awesome to come home from a busy day at work and look over the water and see the sunset and the clouds. It sucks the anxiety right out of you."
Resident since 1965
The longest-term resident of the street is Marcia Baltz. She and her husband, George Michael Baltz, who died in 2006, moved to 1 Bayview Place in 1965 and raised their daughter there. Her husband, known to all as "Mickey," was the street's unofficial mayor.
A few years ago, she had the house completely rebuilt, meeting new codes by raising it 5 feet and insulating it with spray foam.
She rode out the storm, watching the effects as winds from the west met the oncoming superstorm over the water.
"That water, it churned," she said. "It was scary to watch and I thought, 'Did you miscalculate?' "
Her rebuilding efforts saved the house. On Oct. 30, when Sandy had passed, most of the damage to her property was on the outside.
Marcia Baltz never wants to leave Bayview Place. Just two weeks after the terrible storm, she has a new goal.
Nearly four decades ago, her husband built a small lighthouse, with a working beacon, on the backyard's southwest corner -- a playhouse for their daughter. Local boaters came to use the 12-foot structure as a landmark.
Now only the lighthouse's base remains, the rest strewn across neighbors' yards.
"It was working right up until the storm," Marcia Baltz said. "By hook or by crook, I am rebuilding it."