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Village Departments Still Dealing With Sandy Issues

Mineola still working to get things back on track

Since the day Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island, knocking out nearly 900,000 Long Island Power Authority customers with 12,000 in Mineola, the Mineola Fire Department (MFD) has had 125 response calls. The MFD had 612 in 2011.

All village departments were in prep mode days before the storm made landfall. First Assistant Chief Jeff Clark said the fire department began planning for the storm on Oct. 22, making its final preparations days before the storm.

The MFD received its first storm-related call on Oct. 29 at 9:50 a.m., requesting assistance for a fallen tree and downed wires on De Mott Street, according to Clark. The MFD activated its hurricane response plan, putting all members on full alert. Fifty-two more calls came in by 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 30, including a house fire, which spread to utility poles and neighboring trees.

According to Clark, following the storm there were 30 other calls due to numerous incidents including 19 carbon monoxide alarms, which sent nine residents to the hospital.

“We also had mutual aid calls for a house fire in Albertson and a building fire in New Hyde Park, Clark said. “During the storm, we sent an engine down to Merrick to help manage with…they had multiple house fires down there. Crews from Engine Company No. 3 went down.”

MFD firefighters also responded to multiple house fires in Freeport, which was hit hard during the storm, resulting in flooding and damaged homes and businesses. More than 60 MFD members were “in quarters” ready to respond and aid victims during the height of the storm.

Following Sandy, the nor’easter dubbed Athena rolled in, dumping a mixture of rain and sleet mixed with snow, which turned to ice in some areas of Mineola. An additional 35 LIPA customers lost power due to that storm. In spite of the storm, Clark said, the fire department still handed out nearly 2,000 popcorn balls on Halloween to children.

“The nor’easter generated 12 calls over a 5-hour period,” Clark stated. “Again, trees down, wires down and a working car fire.”

The MFD opened its headquarters to 35 tree crew workers from Alabama, giving them lodging, while the Mineola Junior Fire Department cooked for the out-of-town workers.

“I’m not saying this because I’m a member of the fire department, but I’m sure all the residents out there echo those sentiments,” Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss said. “A volunteer organization; you left your homes, you left your families to protect ours and the businesses of the village. We can’t thank you guys enough. You stepped up in a huge way and shined as you always do.”

Strauss wanted to reiterate from a previous meeting that building permit fees for storm damage to homes and buildings in Mineola were waived and that bids for the Bruce Terrace Flood Remediation Project are still on the table.

“We are coordinating with [Nassau] County and we’ll formalize this and have [the bids] set to go in three weeks,” Strauss stated.

Debris clean-up from both storms is still ongoing. Sandy took down 302 trees while Athena claimed 75. Village officials are anticipating a loss of 400 total trees since Mineola public works officials are still canvassing the area, searching for trees that need to be taken down.

“We are going to remove the curbs that have been damaged and the sidewalks that have been damaged,” said Strauss said. “We have a process in place to repair those and we are going forward with that. We’re getting back to normalcy. We’re almost there.”

Residents who feel they need FEMA assistance need to register with the agency by calling 1-800-621-FEMA. More information is available at www.mineola-ny.gov.

“Island Park, Long Beach and areas like that are reaching out and asking anybody that’s licensed, insured contractors,” Trustee George Durham said. “They need all the help they can get. If you know somebody that’s an electrician, plumber, general contractor that needs work, those villages are looking for anybody and everybody to help rebuild. Pass the word around.”