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Lynbrook tenants remain displaced since March 13 storm

Barbara Lachman, 48, has been unable to live

Barbara Lachman, 48, has been unable to live in her Lynbrook since the March 13 storm. (March 28, 2010) Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

For more than two weeks, Barbara Lachman has wondered when she'll be able to return home.

The waterproof layer of the flat roof of the Lynbrook apartment building where Lachman lives with her son was destroyed in the nor'easter that hit Long Island March 13. They and tenants from the 17 other units in the three-story Duryea Place building were displaced as some apartments wound up flooded with rainwater.

Immediately after the storm, village officials ordered tenants to evacuate while the property owner cleared debris, cut down a tree that had fallen on the building and made the apartments habitable.

But a shortage of roofing materials delayed the repair for more than a week, according to village officials and a representative of the company that owns the building, Breboys Two LLC of Cedarhurst.

"[It] was the worst storm in 30 years," the company's managing agent, Joseph Brecher, said Sunday outside the building. "It's not in my control."

Last week, the unfinished roof, covered by a tarp, couldn't keep out another round of rain.

"We all got re-flooded again, worse than the first time," Lachman, 48, said Sunday as she stood in her third-story apartment, the parquet floors stripped from the entranceway. Waterlogged walls in the kitchen and bathroom had been torn out. Four industrial-strength fans circulated musty air.

Lynbrook building superintendent Brian Stanton said he believed the stormy weather led the roof membrane to come off, adding that "it's a very well-maintained multiple dwelling."

Last week, Stanton said, the village instructed Brecher to repair the least-damaged units so they could be occupied as soon as possible. He said the landlord said about a dozen units would be ready by last Saturday.

The roof repair was completed, Brecher said, but a company hired to clean up the damaged units couldn't get the equipment needed to dry them out.

As of Sunday afternoon, no tenants had moved back in.

"I want to get back in my apartment," said longtime tenant Lee Hoovler, 61, who has been living with his father. "If I had to move, it would be an extreme problem."

Brecher said he contacted the Nassau Office of Housing and Homeless Services Sunday and passed along tenants' phone numbers. A Nassau Red Cross spokesman said that immediately after the storm, the organization provided temporary housing in a motel to two tenants who requested assistance.

Martha Molina, 59, a tenant for about 30 years, said she intended to stay in a hotel last nightSunday night. "Nobody's giving an answer" about when the apartments will be ready, she said.

So far, Lachman has stayed with a brother and a sister, and spent a few nights at a hotel as she juggles a new job. "No help came to us," she said.

Brecher said an electrician is due at the site Monday with a third party who is required to certify that the apartments are safe.

With Jennifer Gundersen

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