MASTIC BEACH, N.Y. (AP) — Bulldozers scooped sand off streets, tow trucks hauled away cars destroyed by flood waters and some residents contemplated after-the-fact evacuations from homes without water or power.
Even without basic necessities, people in the hardest-hit parts of Long Island did their best Wednesday to start putting back the pieces.
Stressed-out residents coped in Mastic Beach, where up to a foot of oily, stagnant water still stood in some places.
They included the Kalbs, who used a rowboat Tuesday to get to a house filled with 3 feet of water, its contents ruined.
"We're just trying to clean up a little bit and do what we have to," Joanne Kalb said.
Her exasperated husband, Richard, posted a sign on a telephone pole, asking drivers to slow down: "Slow please no wake."
The fire department got 150 calls during the storm and used boats while evacuating 100 people, First Assistant Fire Chief Carlo Grover said. About a dozen firefighters from upstate Sharon Springs were there helping Wednesday.
"The water came up so fast. It was 4 feet inside my house," said William Connor, 74, cellphone in hand, as he waited on hold for his insurance company. "I got a brand-new car with 1,700 miles on it in the garage, and that's gone."
Connor, a retired New York City police officer, has lived in Mastic Beach for 26 years. "This is the worst."
He had no electricity. But water? "We have plenty of water!" he said, standing in a flood zone.
Michael Bullock, 61, encountered a foot of water indoors and a floor covered with mud. On Wednesday, sodden couches and mattresses littered his darkened home.
Ron Austin, 70, a retired salesman, said the "hellacious" wind came first. The fear didn't really kick in until the water came up through the floorboards, he said.
He'd been renovating, making holes for electrical cables.
"I was sticking plastic bags in the holes in the floor ... like putting your finger in the dike."
High tide in the garage was 4 feet. He remembers whitecaps on the waves that spewed across his lawn.
Although separated by 50 miles, the shell-shocked people of Mastic Beach had kindred spirits to the west.
David Sinicrope, 47, related at a free cellphone charging station how he'd spent the storm in a third-floor condo on the now-shattered Long Beach boardwalk.
"It was horrifying," he said. "We were in the middle of the ocean at one point."
His car, parked in the center of Long Beach, was filled with water. "The cars were floating everywhere," he said.
It's a great place, he said. But, for now, "Do we stay or leave?"
Angel Lynch, a lawyer, had an answer to that question.
She and her son had stayed behind in the storm, comforted that the dire warnings about Hurricane Irene never materialized.
This time, the ocean tossed aside the city's boardwalk with ease. "I knew by about 6 o'clock Monday we were doomed," she said.
Now, their power was off; their toilets didn't work; she'd lost two cars.
Soon, they would be staying with relatives.
Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister reported from Long Beach.