On Staten Island, a retired cop, Larry Jenkins, was skeptical of the media hoopla surrounding Sandy's impending landfall somewhere around Atlantic City. After getting burned last year with Hurricane Irene, he had second thoughts this time. He had evacuated his family in accordance with Governor Cuomo's decree, only to return to a home untouched by Irene, but looted and vandalized by unknown perpetrators.
Living in a beautiful, two-story waterfront home with his elderly mother and teenage daughter, he was not inclined to let the looters hit him again. Having difficulty convincing his mom and daughter to leave, he decided to go with the flow, and went about preparing the house for the looming battle with nature. Assisted by his neighbors, they started boarding up the expansive view windows. While they were busy working on the front deck, Anna snuck out the back window, and hooked up with school friends to attend a hurricane party in Queens.
After Sandy came ashore pushing a full-moon high tide, conditions rapidly deteriorated. With the surge over three feet deep, their house was struck by large drifting boats from the nearby harbor. Deciding it was too dangerous to stay, he tried to drive his mother and Slim to higher ground in his Hummer, not having a clue where his daughter was. Unfortunately, they were soon turned around by high water and dire circumstances.
As the dangerous system grew in intensity, residents all along the coast were being pummeled by the incessant rain and wind. The unlucky people who stayed behind found themselves fighting for their very lives against the monstrous tempest.
While attempting to return home, Larry rescued a pretty stranger, whose parents were swept away when their vehicle stalled. Along the way, he ended up saving Anna, who had to bail when her boyfriend's clunker over-heated. Having to eventually abandon the Hummer, the group swam to the back porch, aided by spotlights provided by Tom from across the street. Finally reaching the porch and getting upstairs, they briefly enjoyed drying off and warming up, until another fishing boat impacted the dwelling, inflicting catastrophic damage to a structural wall.
Forced to evacuate to the roof before the house collapsed, the beleaguered band watched in horror as the tuna boats that smashed into Larry's front wall, leveled Slim's bungalow, also damaging other neighboring residences as they were swept up the street. In the process, Tom lost his faithful dog, Schooner to a rogue wave, but managed to save his wife's cat, Freddy. Larry spotted the mutt swimming in circles and was about to help him, when his house started to buckle and shift in the tide. Having no choice but to attempt an emergency evacuation from the roof, Dot was swept away in the surge, along with the pet. With life and death decisions to be made, Larry elected to stay with his daughter and the others. Swimming for a derelict sailboat that was fortuitously leaning against Tom's house, he saved Anna after their home disintegrated in a massive explosion, albeit severely injuring himself in the process.
As they were struggling to find sanctuary from the tempest, Tom jumped into the ten foot deep tide to rescue a neighbor and his girlfriend, after their inundated bungalow collapsed from the explosive shock wave.
With great difficulty, the intrepid band managed to climb aboard the listing boat, and finally get out of the cold, swirling surge. Distraught over losing his mother, Larry was over-joyed when she and Schooner miraculously reappeared, though she was in shock and suffering from hypothermia. After getting her on deck, they tried to keep the two seniors dry and warm in the vessel's cabin, and waited for first responders to arrive.
After emergency help was summoned and eventually reached the devastated enclave, they started to evacuate the most critical survivors, but were shocked when Sandy made one last attempt at doing them under.