One of Sandy’s victims: a Staten Island postal worker

The Staten Island Advance reports that one of Hurricane Sandy’s victims was a well known local postal worker. The body of Leonard Montalto, 53, was found Wednesday morning in the flooded basement of his home:

Montalto was a mainstay with the United States Postal Service, and was planning a run for president of his local branch of the American Postal Workers Union. Neighbors remembered him as the man who delivered their newspapers.

Montalto, a genial U.S. Postal Service worker who delivered the local paper and collected Beanie Babies, had lived in the single-story home since he was a boy. One of his three daughters, Nicole, was with him as the storm approached, but he ordered her to leave in his car shortly after 7 p.m., when the water began to rise. A neighbor, Sebastian Stankiewicz, said he drove by about 7 p.m. and saw just a few inches of water on the street. By the time he had turned his car around and returned home, about 500 yards away, the water was knee-deep and rising fast. He and his wife were barely able to drive away.

“It was so fast,” said Stankiewicz, who stood in his waterlogged backyard. Sodden clothes hung from a line near muddy toys on the ground.

Later that night, Montalto called his daughter to say it was good she got out. It was the last anyone heard from him.

When she came back Tuesday morning, she found the family dog and cat alive, but Montalto was missing. Family found his wallet and his sweatshirt, but no trace of him.

The waters were too deep to access the basement, though. “SCUBA divers came. They didn’t find him either,” she said. Finally, on Wednesday morning, a family friend broke through and the water came gushing out.

Read more: Family finds Staten Island Hurricane Sandy victim in flooded basement |

and: Hurricane Sandy leaves a sea of heartache in Staten Island – Los Angeles Times.