Damage indiscriminate

Judy Musacchio lives in a trendy beachfront house just steps away from the ocean.

BY PJ HELLER | NORFOLK, VA | September 21, 2003



"What it basically boils down to is you have to take the good with the bad here. Sometimes it’s nice weather and it’s a beautiful place to be. When a storm comes, it can get mean."

—Nick Krupski


Judy Musacchio lives in a trendy beachfront house just steps away from the ocean. A few blocks away, Nick Krupski lives in a small, nondescript apartment. Hurricane Isabel didn’t distinguish between them — or anyone else for that matter.

Musacchio, who has owned the house for three years, saw the storm rip apart the foundation of the building. The inside was unscathed. She sought safety in her daughter’s home in Chesapeake, Va.

Krupski, who has lived in the area for some 30 years and grew up here, faced a sea of mud and water inside his unit. He opted to stay in his apartment and tough out the storm during what he described as a sleepless night.

“What it basically boils down to is you have to take the good with the bad here,” Krupski said. “Sometimes it’s nice weather and it’s a beautiful place to be. When a storm comes, it can get mean.”

On Saturday, the single-story apartment complex where Krupski lives had clothes and other items hanging or piled outside to dry.

“It looks like everybody’s been given an eviction notice,” Krupski said with a laugh.

Krupski kept busy trying to sweep the water and mud out of his apartment while his neighbor Patricia Pettersson looked on and offered encouragement. She, too, had stayed during the storm, saying she did so because Krupski had remained.

“I prayed all night,” she admitted.

Krupski said he might have second thoughts about staying if another hurricane threatened.

“Next time I’m going to silicone my doors (shut) and go to a shelter,” he said, noting that such an approach might help keep the water and mud out.

Mud was so far inside his apartment that he was using a shower head to spray the bathroom floor in the back of the unit in order to remove the mud.

At the same time, Musacchio sat in her doorway, dangling her feet down onto what once would have been a porch. Today, there was nothing there except air and a long drop to the sand. She said she was waiting for the insurance adjusters.

Some told Musacchio that her house was in a gorgeous location looking out on the water.

“It’s almost in the water right now,” she replied.

While her house suffered structural damage from the storm surge, other houses and apartments on the beach fared much worse. One two-story apartment building literally had its ocean facing wall peeled away. A pier which had been further up the beach was destroyed. Debris littered both the beach and the water.

“I didn’t sleep for two nights waiting for this thing (Hurricane Isabel),” Musacchio said. “When I got home, this is what we found.”

She said her initial reaction to the damage was one of shock.

“It was just awful,” she said. “It took my breath away. I had no idea it would do this much damage.

“We were on a dune here,” she added. “We had a yard with grass. To come back and have it be totally beach is a big surprise.”

Krupski said he would like to see the city install some form of drainage in his area to prevent future flooding. And he rails as people who build on or near the beach and then complain when their property is damaged in a storm.

“Future generations of people living here are still going to be building three-story condos and they’re all going to complain,” he predicted. “Why did they move here in the first place?”


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