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Trailer keeps family close after Sandy

Frank and Beth Rinaudo with their sons Ryan,

Frank and Beth Rinaudo with their sons Ryan, 6, and Frankie, 9, in front of the mobile home they are living in while their Massapequa home is repaired. (Jan. 8, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

As superstorm Sandy approached Long Island on that Monday in October, Beth Rinaudo was burying her mother, Harriette Purdy, who had died of cancer three days earlier.

After a 10 a.m. church service in Bayport, the Rinaudo family and other relatives stood in a cemetery, storm winds whipping the trees, to lay her mother to rest.

Two hours later, they were back at their Massapequa home in a mad rush, packing belongings to ride out the storm elsewhere and putting some furnishings out of harm's way in case of flooding.

"I hadn't prepared for this at all," Rinaudo, 42, said recently, recalling the weeks of her mother's illness and death before Sandy roared ashore.

A couple of days after the storm, after the family's house sustained damage from up to 3 feet of floodwater, Frank Rinaudo, 50, started to look for a trailer or mobile home. It was clear from the outset, he said, that they needed "somewhere to live for a good stretch of time."

The trailer in their front yard has been their home since mid-November. They leased it for six months, at a cost of $12,500.

Sharing the 50-foot-long, 14-foot-wide space with the couple are their sons, Frankie, 9, and Ryan, 6, and the family's golden retriever, Chloe.

The two-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath trailer allows the family to be near their home as it is being repaired, the Rinaudos said, and the decision to stay in the neighborhood has given their boys a sense of normalcy.

They hope renovation work on the house -- which had about $155,000 in structural damage, $111,000 of which has been covered by insurance -- will be done by the middle of next month.

The shock of those early weeks remains fresh in their minds.

The house, built in 1938, is about 2 1/2 blocks from the bay but never had flooded before, the couple said, citing the Federal Emergency Management Agency's historical data of the area. The Rinaudos have lived in the home eight years.

"It took so much to get out of bed, knowing we had to go to the house for days on end and just go through, room by room, and just throw everything away, all of our possessions, in a Dumpster," Frank Rinaudo said.

"It's not really the possessions that matter, but the people," Beth Rinaudo added. "Building great friendships and relationships -- that's way more important than the things you may have. And we just hope that this never happens again, or we're moving from Long Island."

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