TODAY'S PAPER
Overcast 52° Good Morning
Overcast 52° Good Morning
Long Island

Sandy survivor wins trailer donated by Long Beach family

Arlette Clark-Bustamante, Austin Clark-Bustamante and Susan M. Clark-Bustamante

Arlette Clark-Bustamante, Austin Clark-Bustamante and Susan M. Clark-Bustamante were ready to pick the winner of the trailer Saturday, March 11, 2017. Photo Credit: Clark-Bustamante family

The Mastic Beach widow who will get to live in a free recreational trailer while her house is raised knows just whom to thank.

“I do believe in God,” said Celeste Ruhe, 57, adding she was “overwhelmed” by the generosity of so many strangers.

Two of them are Long Beach residents Susan and Arlette Clark-Bustamante, who decided to give their trailer to a fellow superstorm Sandy survivor in need.

Ruhe’s name was plucked out of a hat on Saturday by their son, Austin Clark-Bustamante, 15. He and his parents lived in the 30-foot trailer for eight months while their home was being elevated.

The trailer cost $6,000, but they decided to donate it to someone else still struggling more than four years after the storm.

“We are so happy that we were able to help this woman, she had us all crying,” Susan Clark-Bustamante said.

The family asked only that the lucky winner haul the trailer away — and later, donate it to someone else that Sandy made homeless.

More than 25 people requested the trailer, Ruhe said, noting she only found about it from yet another kind stranger.

A man knocked on her door a couple of days ago, asking to borrow a broom to sweep up broken glass on the street. As Ruhe helped him, they chatted, and she mentioned she had nowhere to live while her house was being raised.

Though the home was repaired after Sandy flooded the basement and mold grew, it could not be elevated because her husband William Ruhe, a retired New York City transit policeman, was ill.

He died two years ago after almost three decades of marriage. Now no one wants to take Celeste Ruhe in because she has three small dogs, she said.

The stranger mentioned a News 12 story about the free trailer. Ruhe, a local school bus driver and nurse’s aide, rushed back inside but never saw the story.

A day later, she found a Newsday story about it in her mailbox with a note and the stranger’s name, Bill Hansen.

One of her sons, Arnold, 34, of Shirley, helped her apply through Facebook.

“You have to have faith,” Ruhe said.

A volunteer will haul the trailer to Ruhe’s home. And she said she will honor the family’s request to donate it to someone else in need after she is back in her home.

“I have to do the right thing,” she said.

Latest Long Island News

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to Newsday is free for Optimum customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.

LOGIN SUBSCRIBE