Written By Jessica Mulvihill
Frank Murtagh watched in disbelief as his Long Beach, N.Y. home filled with water during Hurricane Sandy. But for the 53-year-old father-of-two, the experience was much different than most, as he had to be lifted into an attic crawl space by family members during the worst of the storm.
Murtagh has been living with cerebral palsy since birth. He wears a full-body brace and relies on a specialized electric wheelchair to get around.
“We put his feet up first but once the water was really rising it was starting to touch his legs so my sister’s fiancé and I carried him into the attic,” Murtagh’s daughter Maureen told Fox News. “It’s only about maybe five feet of space that you can really sit in. So, I made a makeshift bed up there to lay him down because he was really uncomfortable -- his brace hurts his body.”
Not only did Murtagh spend six hours lying on an air mattress in the attic crawl space until the water receded, his electric wheelchair shorted out in the flood and acid leaked from the battery pack – rendering it useless. Unable to walk without his chair, he can no longer get to work at his job at the Nassau County Office for the Physically Challenged. His doctor’s office in his home town of Long Beach was completely destroyed, leaving him no prescription for a new wheelchair – if his insurance company will even cover it.
“The problem is, that normally something like this takes a long time to begin with – but now and later of all these problems, it’s going to be that much longer before all this gets done,” Murtagh said about getting a new wheelchair. “And, luckily I have saved up a number of vacation days that I am now using, so that I don’t lose my job. But, if I don’t get back to work soon, that’s a possibility.”
Murtagh’s wife, Chris, is also unable to work because he needs constant care without his wheelchair. So, the family is without income on top of losing their home and handicapped accessible means of transportation (Murtagh’s van was also ruined during the storm).