When Peggy and Jimmy Loscalzo, who live on Creek Road in Wading River, heard Hurricane Sandy was barreling toward the area, they decided to ride out the storm.
Never again, the couple said Thursday.
The Loscalzos described the terror of watching Hurricane Sandy batter the beach outside their home as wave surges reached heights of what they said was close to 35 feet.
"We realized, 'We've got to get out,'" Peggy Loscalzo said. "But guess what? We were stuck."
The couple, who decided to stay because of their pets -- Jake, a rescue dog, and Monster, their cat -- said they realized the punishing storm was a threat when flooding outside their front door reached over six feet and washed over the cars in the driveway.
Prepared to flee to the attic with their pets, Peggy said she thought the decision to stay would be catastrophic. "We thought our lives were over," she said.
The waves outside, at one point, "looked higher than our house," she added.
Jimmy, meanwhile, had plans to pack his wife and pets into a canoe and push them out down the road, should the situation worsen.
At one point, the Loscalzos said, the storm turned, and waves were battering the house from the creek across the road in the other direction.
The wind pummeling their home, Jimmy said, "sounded like freight trains. You could feel it in your gut."
Sand blasted the windows of the Creek Road home so badly that it has become almost impossible to see through them, they added.
"Our whole bottom floor was wiped out and filled with sewage," Peggy said, adding that the smell was awful.
The couple, who sought refuge upstairs, came down to see what was happening and found water "bubbling up through the floor from the ground below," Peggy said.
Outside the window, the scene was something akin to a tsumani, Jimmy said, adding that when he first saw the towering waves, his first instinct was to grab his wife and lock the front door. "She looked at me and said, 'What good is that going to do?'"
Watching Mother Nature's fury outside their window, the Loscalzos said they watched their decks, including a dance floor they'd had built for their son's wedding and a tiki bar, drift away.
"It took nine men to lift that deck and the storm carried it away like a feather," Peggy said. "We saw boats going by, trees with roots, parts of houses, decks, couches."
The storm debris was racing by so quickly, Jimmy added, "It looked like they had motors. Everything went so fast."
The hardest part, the couple added, was losing precious possessions such as Jimmy's grandfather's 1920s victrola and irreplaceable photographs.
In addition, the beach outside their home was dramatically altered, with scores of feet of sand wiped away; the beach is now flat.
But, both agreed, they were blessed to have survived with their lives and home when countless others lost everything.
They thanked the Riverhead town police and Supervisor Sean Walter for an outpouring of help and support. Walter, Jimmy said, was outside on the beach at 7:45 a.m. the morning after Sandy, surveying the damage on the Wading River coastline.
With fears of looting rampant, Walter and the town police sent extra crews to patrol the otherwise deserted street -- the Loscalzos were the only family that stayed on Creek Road during the storm, despite the mandatory evacuation order.
While the experience was terrifying, the couple agreed there were moments of pure beauty; during a lull in the storm, a full moon appeared through the storm clouds.
"You can't describe the experience of seeing nature at its most raw, and having nowhere to go," Jimmy said.
The pair plans to have T-shirts made that say, "We lived through Sandy."
Married nine years, the Loscalzos said they are prepared to weather any storm together. "We figured if we can survive this, we can survive anything," Jimmy said.
Despite their decision to try to protect the homestead, in an act Jimmy compared to "Custer's last stand," both said they have learned an life-altering lesson from Hurricane Sandy.
"If another storm comes, we'll never decide to stay again," Peggy said.
Jimmy agreed. "We got a great show by Mother Nature, but once is enough."