Young family looking toward new beginning

Bowleys Quarters

Tropical Storm Isabel: Six Month Later

March 21, 2004|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

In September, Susie and Bill Sudek purchased an old shore cottage on a scenic tip of land where the Chesapeake Bay meets Middle River. They weren't sure whether they would renovate the house or tear it down, but they and their three daughters looked forward to living next door to Susie's parents, Bowleys Quarters residents since 1986.

Then Tropical Storm Isabel's high tides and tearing winds destroyed the cottage and the home of Susie's parents, George and Kathleen Bell. In January, Susie's mother died.

Now, after a period of wrenching loss, the Sudeks see a bright future for their family on Bay Drive. They proudly roll out a blueprint showing a custom-built, 3,300-square- foot, Carolina-style home. The house will have a wraparound porch, a perfect setting for their daughters to wed one day.

And it will straddle the line between the two properties. Where there were two homes, there will be one.

The house will make for a fresh start, the couple said, with a suite for Susie's father and romping room for their three daughters, Megan, 8, Erin, 6, and Maggie, 4. To build it, they have borrowed $350,000. They paid $300,000 for the property.

They, like most of their neighbors, are determined to be a part of an even better Bowleys Quarters.

"Eventually, this could turn into an opportunity along a waterfront where million-dollar homes will be the norm," said Susie Sudek, a real estate agent. "My mother said never let their property out of the family. We will not."

But she added that "other people in Bowleys haven't been so `lucky.'"

Bowleys Quarters, a peninsula of 6,000 residents where scores of homes were swept away or heavily damaged, is rebounding from Isabel. Dozens of families, including many elderly people, still live in government-issued trailers, waiting for insurance payments or deciding whether to sell their properties or go into debt to rebuild.

As volunteers serve meals several times a week for those still struggling, folks in this village of marinas, shore shacks and impressive waterfront homes are showing their resolve. Along the narrow roads that wind through the community and past the bay front and the creeks, carpenters and bulldozers outnumber "For Sale" signs.

"People down here have that fight in them, to get back on their feet, to start living again," said Mary Harvey, director of the Baltimore County Office of Community Conservation.

For those rebuilding, such as the Sudeks, decisions and challenges lie ahead. On the Sudeks' property and others along the waterfront, the ground remains saturated. The couple might have to truck in an expensive shipment of stone to support the house's foundation.

But Bill Sudek, a sales representative for a local office supply business, said it will all be worthwhile.

"Look at this," he said, spreading his arms toward the bay. "This will be a million-dollar view."

His wife said the new house will in some ways "live for my mom's dream, her house on the water."

"That's where I want to be because that's where she was and where there will be a new beginning of memories for my children, for us."

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