Sonya Begelman looked out at the debris in front of the Jewish Center of Atlantic Beach and recalled how “everything was destroyed.”
Begelman, a board member of the temple and a congregant for 32 years, said the center will try to salvage some of its nine Torah scrolls that were damaged by flooding, but holy books — including siddurim — will have to be disposed of.
In Atlantic Beach, where the ocean meets the bay, buildings and homes were surrounded by water. While the devastation in Atlantic Beach was not as apparent as in Long Beach, there was plenty of damage all the same.
“I have been pumping water out of basements in Atlantic Beach since the storm hit,” said Rich Ronzo, of Cedarhurst. “Basements are totally flooded, along with first floors, and people’s possessions are gone.”
Patch did attempt to contact Atlantic Beach residents by knocking on doors, but most were unanswered.
Atlantic Beach has been without power since the hurricane hit on Oct. 29. Residents say that the village has done a good job of keeping them updated with daily bulletins left in their mailboxes. One such notice said, “Local officials and LIPA continue to work together to rectify the current power outage.”
Several attempts to contact the mayor, Stephen Mahler, were unsuccessful.
Village officials said Thursday night that they would be sending an inspector to each household to check the electrical panels. Once the panel and home is deemed safe, the home is eligible for power. However there is no specific date as to when the power will be fully restored to the island. Some say it may be weeks.
Fortunately, Village Hall has a generator and has been a refuge for those residents still in their homes, offering shelter, electricity and a hot cup of coffee.
Atlantic Beach’s famous beach clubs did not escape destruction either. Sunny Atlantic’s cabana doors had blown off, shelves were knocked over, and the cabanas were buried in approximately 2 feet of sand. Their pools were also filled with sand, and the winds carried pieces of the boardwalk into the club. Lifeguard chairs and rubble were strewn in every direction at Catalina.
"Everybody looks at Atlantic Beach as an affluent community. They've been very affected by the storm,” said Frank Mistero, an Atlantic Beach resident and Inwood Republican leader. “The biggest problem is power — I don't think LIPA was prepared for this.”
Luckily, he said, Atlantic Beach is hooked into relief efforts that have been centered in Long Beach.
Volunteers from all over the country were out in full force. Jane Shaul, an Atlantic Beach resident, said that she was “touched by the kindness of strangers.” Last week, volunteers from Pennsylvania were going door-to-door asking if anyone needed assistance.
Eric Villani distributed food in the West End of Long Beach and parts of Atlantic Beach through his catering company EV Events. Villani’s wife, Suzanne, came to help out, as did other volunteers. Villani, a former Long Beach resident, said he did it “old school,” by word of mouth and going door-to-door.
“If I have the ability to help someone else out, I will,” he said.