By Anessa V. Cohen

So are we bored yet? I don’t think so. This Sandy and its aftermath has become a life experience for those who got whacked by it, and it eclipses all others. I thought, as a real-estate broker in the business for 20-some-odd years, that I had encountered just about every construction or repair debacle out there and learned to overcome them all. But this Sandy has shown me! It has brought forth conditions that make you go backward and learn to walk from scratch all over again.

After the storm, everyone’s first priority was not only getting the electricity back on, but, for those of us who got flooded, getting the boiler and hot-water tanks replaced, and of course our washer/dryers installed and back in business doing their jobs after dealing with the available Laundromats for the first two weeks.

Mold has now become the number one enemy to fight in getting homes back in shape before anything else can be rebuilt. The entire process of getting rid of mold, mildew, spores, etc. reminds me of the story of The Cat in the Hat where this pink stuff was everywhere, anywhere, and simply endless. No matter how you attack it, there could always be a spore here or there that got away in the air that you missed and would come back to haunt you later. The Cat in the Hat had a magic wand–which, alas, we have not, so we have to depend on mold specialists and chemical cocktails in hopes that this will do the trick and get the nasty stuff to magically disappear.

Once we finish with the mold–if we ever finish with the mold–our next hurdle will be the electricity, which also has to be dealt with carefully. All electric wiring and outlets below the flood lines needs to be replaced, since the salt water can cause corrosion and possibly be a fire hazard. It is like demolishing parts of your house piecemeal until you get to a point that there is nothing left to demolish that can be harmful, and the skeleton that is left is what you use as the base for rebuilding.

I have not even reached that skeleton stage yet, but find myself looking forward to it since I am presently working on two houses at the same time rather than just my own–that is what families are for! I am finding that 90 percent of the project of repairing the flood damage consists of the demolishing part and the remaining 10 percent is the actual rebuilding of the new replacement parts.

Will I now become an unlicensed mold specialist after this? Probably–What a keter (crown) to wear! What about a flood specialist with the ability to list in quick succession all the necessary steps towards removing contaminants and damaged construction materials from a flooded home? Oh, yeah!

I would like to take a moment to thank the Sanitation Department, which I know is working day and night seven days a week to haul all these debris mountains away. (By the way, when are you picking up near me?) v

Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to

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