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UPDATE: More furniture retailers assess storm damage

NEW YORK — As the Northeast continues to recover from Monday's devastating Hurricane Sandy, new reports of damage and potential damage to furniture stores in the storm's path are emerging.

One of the hardest hit appears to be Seaside Furniture in Tom's River, N.J. According to two industry reports attributed to Seaside's Lara Lindner, everything in the store was destroyed.

"There is some exterior damage, however the indoor contents are all 100% destroyed ... 60,000 square feet ... unthinkable that now even one chair made it through," Lindner wrote in a message passed on by the Authentic Home Furnishings Assn. The company's two Gelco stores fared better, according to the report.

According to the retailer's website, the store was "severely damaged" but will be rebuilt.

"We've not been able to get back to the island to check on our store," said Bob Huber, co-president of Oskar Huber Furniture & Design, referring to his store in Ship Bottom, N.J., on Long Beach Island north of Atlantic City. Huber's other store in the Philadelphia-area was still without power as of early Friday.

"Rumors are business owners will be allowed back on (Long Beach) on Friday," Huber said in a telephone messages. "We believe it's the worst case scenario as far as our store goes."

He already knows the store was taking on water. The showroom has cameras, and even though the island was evacuated and the store boarded up and sandbagged Sunday, Huber could see the water seeping in before the cameras cut off along with the electricity. If the water rose about six inches from where it was in the last view, furniture would start getting damaged, he said.

The best news is no one was injured, he said, adding, "Everyone was out of there in plenty of time."

Neil Goldberg, CEO of Raymour & Flanigan, said the Liverpool, N.Y.-based Top 100 company's biggest priority is taking care of its employees. "We're just trying to make sure all of our people are OK," he said.

As of Wednesday, the company had about 25 stores and four delivery warehouses that were still without power. Goldberg received reports that some employees in Long Island and along the Jersey shore were in evacuation zones and "are trying to get back to see what's left and what the damage is."

Others chose to stay and ride out the storm, he said, and "our understanding is everybody is safe, but no doubt (suffering) tremendous property loss and impact to their families."

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