Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 09 November 2012 00:00
As the sun faded in the late afternoon sky on Monday, Oct. 29, local residents braced themselves for a storm unlike any other in recent memory.
When the howling wind gusts and steady rainfall subsided the next day, community members took to the streets to survey the damage of Superstorm Sandy, which upended hundreds of trees and numerous power lines in the area and left nearly all of the homes and businesses within the Village of Westbury and Town of North Hempstead without electricity.
As of Monday, Nov. 5, many residents were still in the dark, though Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro told The Westbury Times that he has been in constant contact with residents and LIPA representatives to help restore power in the area.
“I would basically just want [residents] to know that we’re working around the clock to clean up the damage and I’ve been on the phone five or six times a day, emailing and text messaging with our representatives at LIPA trying to get as much resources from them as possible to get this stuff cleaned up as quickly as possible.
“I do expect that there will still be pockets of people who are still out of power. LIPA is telling us that most people will be up by Wednesday, Nov. 7 this week, but there are certain areas that have damage in the backyards or poles that snapped and those things will take longer,” Cavallaro said, adding, “There are going to be some situations that are going to be isolated that will be persistent and take a little longer to get restored but we’re going to press them as hard as we can to get them fixed and up and ready.”
The mayor said he was pleased with the village’s response to Sandy and that help from contracted crews has expedited the cleanup process. The village noted that many downed trees couldn’t be removed until power lines are cleared. The village also warned that LIPA does not need to enter the home to address problems so residents should not allow any person posing as a LIPA worker to enter his or her house.
“I think we’ve done everything that we can. Since Tuesday morning, Oct. 30, we’ve had six or seven tree crews of our own and we’ve had outside contracts, though it’s costing us money that we fortunately can spend because we have a healthy balance sheet and most of it will be reimbursed by FEMA. We’ve taken away and cut up 250 or so trees that needed to be cleared and we did that all within less than a week of the storm and our DPW personnel have worked very, very hard and I think we’ve done a great job.
“But to people who are still without power we need to get that done because it’s a very difficult situation especially with the weather getting colder,” Cavallaro said.
The village’s mass email system had not been restored as of Nov. 5, so Cavallaro utilized to the village’s Facebook page to provide daily updates for residents with access to the Internet, whether through a computer or a smart phone (residents on Facebook can search “Village of Westbury, New York” and “like” the page to stay up-to-date with ongoing issues).
For example, Cavallaro said on Facebook, “Thanks to Legislator Rich Nicolello, we have temporary traffic lights at Post and Maple Avenues. There were several accidents at that intersection, and he was able to arrange for us to have the temporary lights.”
The village’s code enforcement hotline is fully operational and residents with issues can call (516) 333-1869. Other important phone numbers include the LIPA Hotline, (800) 490-0075 or (631) 755-6900; National Grid 24-hour emergency hotline, (800) 490-0045; the Red Cross, (516) 747-3500; Nassau County non-emergency hotline, 1-888-684-4274; and the Nassau County Police Department’s emergency line, 911.
Seniors in the Town of North Hempstead may dial 311 if in need of a ride through the town’s Project Independence program. Town residents can also call 311 to report downed trees or to learn more regarding the town’s ongoing relief efforts, which include programs at Martin “Bunky” Reid Park and the Yes We Can Community Center at 141 Garden Street in Westbury.
Westbury homeowners and businesses that sustained damage during Hurricane Sandy are eligible to apply for federal disaster assistance through FEMA. You can apply by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or by visiting FEMA’s website at http://www.disasterassistance.gov/.
Cavallaro said the village’s top priority is getting power to area homes and businesses but the village would accept and distribute any donations for those in need at Westbury Village Hall, located at 235 Lincoln Place in Westbury.