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Family safe but office destroyed

Brooklyn, N.Y.— "I'm alive. I feel very fortunate to be here. I can still come back from this."

Dr. Stuart Segelnick, a Brooklyn periodontist, is taking his post-Hurricane Sandy life a day at a time. He and his wife Tina and their young son Noah are well and glad to have power, phone service and heat again after a week of cold and darkness.

Devastation: The operatory in Dr. Stuart Segelnick's new dental office was destroyed when floodwaters from Superstorm Sandy filled the office to the ceiling.

But his brand new dental office was totally destroyed in the storm.

In March, Dr. Segelnick opened his new office in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn, a block from Sheepshead Bay.

"I had just celebrated my 20th year of graduating from dental school. I had just saved up enough to invest in the new place. After Sandy, it was flooded to the ceiling with sea water. Everything was completely destroyed."

What's worse is that when he started making calls to get the insurance process started, he learned he wasn't covered because he didn't have flood insurance.

"I asked my insurance agent why I didn't have it. She told me the bank didn't require it for my mortgages and it was very expensive, so she didn't purchase it. Now I'm out hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Dr. Segelnick's friend and colleague Dr. James Sconzo has already stepped up, offering Dr. Segelnick clinical space to see patients several days a week.

"I still have my digital files. I don't know how long I will be there [with Dr. Sconzo] but I'm thankful I can generate some income while I'm starting to sort it all out."

Dr. Segelnick served on a Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team after Hurricane Katrina. "They called me to help with this storm, but I had to tell them I couldn't help right now because I was a victim."

Dr. Segelnick said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision on Oct. 28 to name Sheepshead Bay an evacuation zone saved the lives of his office staff and patients. "I'm so thankful we weren't there when the storm hit," he said. "We would have been killed. It wasn't just the wind and the water to the ceiling. Debris was rushing everywhere. A refrigerator slammed into the front door of my office and broke it in half. There are so many people who lost their lives, their homes, their businesses."

Dr. Segelnick says he will need to have his office demolished and then will rebuild.

"I'm upset. I'm upset about everything related to the storm, but mostly because of the finances. My family is trying to go on like it was yesterday. When everything in life is this overwhelming, you just have to do one thing at a time."

He wants to thank the dental community for stepping up quickly to help him and other dentists affected by the storm.

"I know there are a lot of other dentists in the area that also had their offices ruined and are facing similar problems," said Dr. Segelnick. "I received a number of calls from my colleagues and my dental society offering help and a place to practice when they found out about my situation. That means so much to me right now."