Written by Ronald Scaglia, Rscaglia@antonnews.com Friday, 15 February 2013 00:00
More than three months have passed since Superstorm Sandy struck Long Island, but its effects are still very much present. At the most recent board meeting of the Town of Oyster Bay, recovery from the storm dominated the conversation.
“I don’t know if everybody understands the level of human suffering that is still going on,” said Town Supervisor John Venditto. “I don’t think there is an awareness of how ugly it is and just how hard the Town of Oyster Bay workforce is working.”
One resident of Massapequa spoke about his efforts to get his house raised to meet flood insurance requirements as well as preventing another disaster in his house when the next major storm arrives. He spoke of how he is still living in a trailer alongside of his home and that he does not have heat in the trailer as current fire regulations are prohibiting him from using propane tanks. He also implored the board for help in getting funding from the federal government to help with recovery expenses.
“The governor is going to give $9 million to put flowers on Jones Beach,” he said questioning why more funding has not come to victims of the storm. Venditto responded that he will be meeting with a federal task force and that the town is doing everything to help out the many who are still living in miserable conditions.
“Anything that was in our ability, we did it and will continue to do it,” remarked Venditto. “The problems that you have identified, have come up in the past but we were still picking up the garbage. The things that the Town of Oyster Bay had direct control of, we did our job as well as any municipality. Now that the focus has shifted, not away from the cleanup, but the priority is becoming rebuilding, one thing you can count on is the Town of Oyster Bay will always do the right thing by its residents.”
Another person asked about the storm cleanup and repair efforts at the Philip Healey Beach at Florence Avenue in Massapequa. The supervisor responded that it is within the responsibility of the town to make the necessary cleanup and repair efforts and while he is hopeful that the town is going to recover most of the money from those efforts, he also remarked, “I’ve also found that if you want something done you’re going to have to do it yourself.”
Former Bayville Mayor Victoria Siegel also spoke about storm recovery efforts in her village. She spoke to the board and asked about remediation efforts at West Harbor Beach in Bayville. Siegel commented that she had previously brought this matter to the board, and she has not seen anyone doing an assessment of the situation, and that the drains have not been cleaned out and wetlands filled with debris are moving closer to the shore. She emphatically said that she has faith in both the town and Venditto, but is concerned, as she has been told that funding from FEMA may not come for 10 years.
“We can’t wait another 10 years to have the remediation done,” Siegel said. “If we have any other storm, we are looking at a second West Shore Road. I don’t mean that to exaggerate.”
Venditto responded that the town and the village have a great relationship and what is said between elected officials from both municipalities matters to each other. He added that he is concerned, as the damage from Sandy has left areas extremely vulnerable when other storms occur, even from milder storms that might not have posed as great a risk in the past. He promised that the town would focus on this issue.
At the beginning of the meeting, Joel Berse, owner of Trainville Hobby Depot in Hicksville presented a check to the American Red Cross for $2,896. The money was raised at a model train show fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, which took place at the Hicksville Community Center.
In a light moment, a mascot for the Ninth Annual UCPN Polar Bear Plunge appeared at the board meeting. This year’s event will again take place at Theodore Roosevelt Park in Oyster Bay and benefits the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County, Inc. It will take place on March 3 beginning at 1 p.m. with plungers hitting the water around 1:30.