The old adage that it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good proved to be true for Ann and Tony Spagnola. Tony, an award-winning New York graphic designer, was introduced to Fire Island when he was a student, and he and his wife spent several summers there before they moved to Larchmont to raise two sons. But the couple, who now live in Manhattan, had always loved the beach, and they finally returned to it in 2012, renting a house on the same walkway where they had stayed all those years ago—one that took them past a 1912 cottage they had often admired. They dreamed about buying it but thought it out of reach. Then came Superstorm Sandy, which devastated large parts of the Northeast, including Fire Island, and destroyed countless homes. The cottage wasn’t leveled, but its insulation sprouted mold, and the owners ripped everything down to the studs. Then, rather than face the task of rebuilding, they decided to sell at a price that reflected its haggard condition.
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