Surviving Sandy: Port Jefferson Shop Owner Finding Her Way After Flooding

Lainie’s Way owner hopeful she can open this weekend.

They’ve been using shop vacuums, dehumidifiers and fans to dry out the inside of her store but Lainie Litovsky says that the one thing that still bothers her is the musty scent that’s lingering inside.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do about it,” Litovsky said while standing outside Lainie's Way, her Port Jefferson toy store, on Thursday morning.

The chilly gray morning reflected her mood. She’s hopeful, though right now she says she’s still having a hard time grasping it and figuring out what she’s going to do.

“This was unbelieveable,” she said of the flood.

Litovsky has owned her store – known for selling fun, smart games and colorful windblown decorations – for almost ten years and in all that time she’s never had a flood. Even last year during Hurricane Irene, the store stayed dry. Just in case, before Hurricane Sandy hit, they moved everything two feet off the floor.

“Good thing we did this time,” said Litovsky.

The water came down the street from the harbor and up through the floor underneath the building.

Nearby on Main Street, Shari Damianos, the manager of Pindar Wine Store, said she wasn't hit as hard by the flooding.

"We had six inches of water inside," said Damianos.

Like Litovsky, at Pindar they put the merchandise up off the floor so it wouldn't get wet. As for damages, they still have some puddles left inside and the wall boards might have to be replaced.

"The sandbags helped a lot," Damianos said. "They kept out the dirty water."

Other than salt water, nothing else got inside her store. Damianos is planning on opening this weekend even without power.

"We'll use a cash box," she said.

Along with the employees at Lainie's Way, Litovsky's husband Marcelo has pitched in to clean up. He said he’s vacuuming up water and drying the floor so they can be ready to open by this weekend but he’s not sure if they’ll make it.

“I’ll tell you tomorrow,” he said.

Litovsky said they had a foot of water in the store. They measured the line of dirt left at the high water mark. When they checked on the store after the storm they found debris pushed up against the doorway and on the deck outside.

Because the insurance company wouldn’t give them flood insurance where they are located, they have to do it all themselves, a burden that any small business would find to be a strain, especially in this economy.

It’s the middle of the fourth quarter and the beginning of the holiday shopping season so this disaster couldn’t come at a worse time for a small retail toy shop.

Litovsky wants to open up this weekend. Luckily, they have power back in the building, along with some others on the northern end of Main Street. The merchandise is also fine. It’s just getting the customers to come in and getting rid of the smell.

"it if smells, people aren't going to come in," Litovsky's husband said.

Litovsky knows people have to clean up from the storm themselves and others might not even have power so they have bigger things to worry about than holiday shopping. But with some of the businesses downtown opening back up Lainie’s Way will try to be ready along with them.

“We want customers to come in,” she said.


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