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Long Beach neighbors become friends thanks to Sandy

Benjamin Schwartz, 39, a doctor at an urgent-care facility, is among the thousands of residents concerned about the damage superstorm Sandy left behind in his Long Beach community.

But as he fretted about not being able to get to work Wednesday, with work crews removing up to a foot of sand from the roadway along his high-rise apartment building on a flood-drenched Broadway, Schwartz was able to see “a silver lining.”

On Tuesday, he and six of his neighbors found the storm damage had tied them together for a unique experience, Schwartz said.

The neighbors in the high rise — who previously only knew each other through greetings in hallways and the lobby — dug out each others’ cars, pushing out vehicles trapped by sand and water.

“It’s bad down here,” Schwartz said. “But there’s a silver lining. I’m really getting to know my neighbors.”

After their work freeing each others’ vehicles, the seven met in one of their apartments and shared a potluck meal of biscotti, bottled water, canned soup and several bottles of wine, he said.

“All day, we banded together...I got to know these people,” he said.

All signs Wednesday did point to a slow recovery for most Long Beach residents.

Officials warned residents that city water was not potable — undrinkable — even after boiling, because most people do not have the power source to boil it. Officials also said sewers were not working and that residents should not flush their toilets.

Two building superintendents of high-rise apartment buildings on Broadway, off the boardwalk, spent most of Tuesday trying to dry out furniture, carpets and other accessories from their lobbies. They also dug out sand and pumped water from basement garages.

The job seemed almost impossible, said one super.

“I’ve been here an hour-and-a-half and it doesn’t look like I’ve done anything,” he said.

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