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Hurricane Dorian has Long Islanders with family in Florida on edge

Shelley Murphy of Bay Shore said health issues

Shelley Murphy of Bay Shore said health issues prevented her parents from evacuating from their condo in West Palm Beach, Fla., as Hurricane Dorian approached Sunday. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Anxious Long Islanders with loved ones in the path of Hurricane Dorian worried, prayed and made emergency plans Sunday as the powerful storm made landfall in the Bahamas and crawled toward the Eastern Seaboard.

Frank and Troim Handler, 93 and 92, respectively, couldn't evacuate from their West Palm Beach, Florida, condominium because of health concerns, said their daughter, Shelley Murphy, 65, of Bay Shore. Her parents have stocked up on oxygen and hired help to board up their windows, Murphy said. Sunday, the couple were waiting out the storm in the darkened unit, which they told Murphy is like a cave.

"For a couple of days nobody's slept at all. My parents are terrified," Murphy said. "We speak every day. … We’re making jokes it’s a conspiracy between the Poland Spring water company and The Weather Channel. But we’re scared."

Murphy said she worried that if the storm knocked out the power in her parents' condominium for an extended period, the heat in a few weeks will be stifling when they celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary.

Janet Wilson, 72, of Huntington, said she'd grown frustrated by bureaucratic red tape while trying to arrange care for her brother, Russell Scalice, 75, a traumatic brain injury survivor who lives in Nettles Island, Florida, with home health aides.

Authorities put Nettles Island — about 14½ miles from Port St. Lucie on Florida's east coast — under a mandatory evacuation order Sunday afternoon.

Wilson's son drove 3½ hours from Tampa and planned to take his uncle back and put Scalice up in a hotel there while they try to find him round-the-clock care, she said.

But Wilson has found it difficult to locate Tampa-area assisted living or nursing home facilities that would take her brother in for days or weeks if necessary.

"This is nearly impossible," she said.

She has also looked at bringing him to a Long Island facility, but has been similarly frustrated. Case workers said it would take 30 days to consider a request. 

"I say, 'well the hurricane is not going to wait 30 days,' " she said. "There should be some way to access continuous service for handicapped and elderly people in an emergency."

Freeport resident Dan Vollkommer, 77, has two adult children living in Florida — a daughter in Coconut Creek and a son about 39 miles north in West Palm Beach.

Vollkommer said his daughter was considering riding out the storm at home, or, depending on Dorian's path, heading to Florida's west coast to stay with relatives.

His son is already on the road to Georgia with his family, Vollkommer said.

"We’re very anxious about what’s going to happen," he said. "Nobody knows where it's going to hit."

His anxiety is heightened, Vollkommer said, because he has witnessed a powerful storm's wrath up close. Superstorm Sandy destroyed his Freeport home in 2012, Vollkommer said. He and his wife now live in Lindenhurst.

"Without a doubt. We had to evacuate and come back to total destruction," he said.

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