Homeless after Sandy: Aquebogue woman still counts her blessings

Hurricane Sandy, Thanksgiving, Aquebogue
COURTESY PHOTO | Cecily Jaffe had to empty all the contents from her Aquebogue home upon her return from Brooklyn after Sandy.

Cecily Jaffe had planned to host Thanksgiving dinner at her Harbor Road home in Aquebogue today.

But on Tuesday she found herself traveling to North Carolina in a rental car, away from the cottage she’s called home for over a dozen years.

hurricane sandy
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Cecily Jaffe of Cecily’s Love Lane Gallery may be out of her home for three months.

Even though she would be far away on Thanksgiving, she said she hoped being with loved-ones would help her forget about her troubles.

And how Sandy swept her house and her life upside down.

The flooding wrecked her appliances, her flooring, her kitchen cabinets. Half of her belongings were lost, she said.

Ms. Jaffe said she’s still in disbelief that she’s homeless, especially around the holidays.

“I didn’t even think it would happen when they were giving all these warnings,” she said. “I really didn’t think it would happen.”

Ms. Jaffe, who owns Cecily’s Love Lane Gallery in Mattituck, said she’s endured storms before, and at first decided to stay home just 200 feet from the edge of the Peconic Bay.

She brought firewood into the cottage so that she would be able to start a fire in the fireplace when the storm hit.

But after days of friends and family urging her to heed evacuate warnings, Ms. Jaffe gave in and drove to her son and daughter’s apartment in Brooklyn. She watched local news coverage that day that showed the waters rising, but was confident the water would recede.

“I could see there was a little bit of flooding in the street, but it must’ve hit that night,” Ms. Jaffe said

The next day, Sandy struck out at Ms. Jaffe in earnest. She said her son and daughter went for a quick walk during a break in the storm to see the damage. After a few minutes they went back into the house and broke the news: a tree had fallen and crushed Ms. Jaffe’s car in Brooklyn.

That Wednesday, two days after the storm hit, she returned back to her Aquebogue house. Inside, she found a layer of mud carried in by a storm surge that rose almost two feet into her home.

She said the house will need to be “gutted.”

“I won’t be able to move back home for the next three months,” Ms. Jaffe said, adding that it’s been hard to find a winter rental to live in. She’s been staying with friends in Eastport since the storm.

Ms. Jaffe has been sending reports to FEMA for assistance while continuing to work at her gallery. The stress is taking its toll on her, she said.

“Every night I’m on looking to see if there’s anything yet from FEMA,” she said. “It’s one thing after another … I’m a little bit crazy. I’m having a little trouble doing my work because I can’t think straight, it’s always on my mind.”

Still, she is glad that the damage caused by Sandy will be repaired, and with Thanksgiving approaching, Ms. Jaffe says she’s counting her blessings.

“It is difficult but I look at people like Breezy Point and Jersey shore that lost everything and say OK this is definitely tough, but I will recover and I will be fine in a few months,” she said.

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