Nick and Diane Camerada fishing on a beach in Staten Island, N.Y. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy caused extensive damage to their home.

Night of the Storm

June 19, 2016
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When one of the largest storm surges in Staten Island’s history swept the New York borough in October 2012, Nick Camerada nearly went with it.

Caught between Superstorm Sandy’s gushing waters and his home’s front door, he says he reached for the knob but couldn’t make it inside. The water carried an electric current, shocking the father of four. After collapsing to the ground, the water pushed and pulled at Camerada, dragging him around the house until his family caught him through a side window.

The Cameradas quickly realized they were in the midst of a calamity: As water filled the first floor of their home, transformers exploded in the distance, and cars and debris floated down the rapidly flooding street. By the time Sandy finished its tear from the Caribbean up the U.S. coast, at least 147 people were dead.

“It was like you were looking into a horror movie. And we looked at each other and I’ve seen the fear in each and every one of our, you know our faces. Are we going to be able to survive the storm?” said Camerada.

Staten Island was one of the boroughs hardest hit by Sandy, which caused $71.4 billion in damages — second only in U.S. history to Hurricane Katrina.

More than three years later, many families along the East Coast are still struggling to rebuild. As FRONTLINE and NPR reported in Business of Disaster, thousands of homeowners say they have not received the recovery help they need, though the FRONTLINE/NPR investigation calculated that the private insurers that administer the government’s flood program made approximately $400 million in profits after Sandy. Some families say they were underpaid. Others say they were victims of fraud.

The Cameradas say their recovery has been slowed by bureaucracy and red tape, and they are waiting on the paperwork they need in order to elevate their home to a safer height.

“I don’t think enough people know the different areas that can be affected by storms like this. And something has to be set up because I don’t think we could bounce back if it happened again,” said Diane Camerada, Nick’s wife.

In the new virtual reality documentary, Night of the Storm, FRONTLINE follows the Camerada family as they recount the night that almost took their lives. Shot with 360-degree cameras, the film allows viewers to experience the storm through the eyes of the Cameradas.

Watch the film below or here on our Facebook page

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