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As Floods Push Homes Higher, the Disabled Risk Being Pushed Out

Storm surge is forcing more people to put their homes on stilts, leaving few options for the elderly and immobile.

Liz Treston’s home in Long Beach, New York.

Liz Treston’s home in Long Beach, New York.

Photographer: Nolan Ryan-Trowe/Bloomberg


When Superstorm Sandy flooded Liz Treston’s home on the South Shore of Long Island, she worried her wheelchair would prevent first responders from rescuing her. So Treston, a quadriplegic, wrote her Social Security number on her arm with a Sharpie, so they could at least identify her body.

She survived, but once the floodwaters receded, officials pushed residents of her Long Beach neighborhood to rebuild their houses on stilts. Treston went along, fearing that if she didn’t, her flood insurance premiums would jump. And, she was told, if her house stayed at ground level, the next storm would turn it into a bowling ball, knocking over the homes around it.