Hurricane Sandy has kept virtually every one of Lynbrook's village departments extremely busy during the past two weeks as the community has had to contend with power outages, downed trees, electrical fires, traffic issues and the need to provide support to its neighbors in hard-hit East Rockaway.
At Monday's meeting of the village board, Mayor William Hendrick, along with the trustees and some residents, applauded Lynbrook's police officers, volunteer firefighters, the Department of Public Works (DPW), radio station, public library, Recreation Department and Emergency Management Office (EMO) for their response to Sandy, thus far. The mayor also posted this list of announcements and key contacts for residents.
"They all worked well together," Hendrick said. "The firemen were on standby, the police watched downed lines, DPW took away downed trees and the EMO kept us all attached to what was going on in the world."
Between Monday, Oct. 29, the day Hurricane Sandy hit the area, until Monday, Nov. 5, the Lynbrook Volunteer Fire Department has chased after more than 110 calls related to the tropical storm and its aftermath. This includes a fire at the electrical station on Hendrickson Avenue last Tuesday and three back-to-back fires inside homes on Bixley Heath, Thompson Place and Hazel Place, which occurred shortly after power was restored to these parts of the village.
The DPW started working two days before the hurricane hit, trimming trees and removing other potential hazards.
"When [Sandy] rolled in around Monday, the primary concern was to keep main roads open and remove downed trees," DPW Superintendent Phil Healey said.
Even after its headquarters lost power, the DPW employees continued to power it using an old generator truck, and even travelled to communities south of the village, whenever possible, to help communities that were hit much harder by the storm. "The group did really well," Healey said. "It was a real team effort ... we had some difficult trees on houses, but everyone rose to the occasion."
The Lynbrook Public Library, which never lost power, provided a safe haven for residents to warm up, charge their phones and other devices, and entertain their kids, which were home from school all week.
"Everybody came together," Robert Cribbin, coordinator of Lynbrook's Emergency Management Office, said.
Cribbin said Lynbrook EMO started tracking Hurricane Sandy nearly one week prior to when the storm hit the area and opened up its command center on Sunday, Oct. 28.
"We did have a communication glitch, the phones went out," he said, but explained that all the departments were given radios, adding, "We never lost communications in the village."
The recovery efforts are far from over though, as Mayor Hendrick reminded local officals and residents that "we have people who still do not have power, neighbors who still do not have homes."
The village has waived its overnight parking restriction for atleast the next 30 days to accomodate residents who have had take in friends and family who have been displaced.
Cribbin, village officials and NYS Assemblyman Brian Curran have been in contact with the Long Island Power Authority, trying to get the remainder of homes in the village who are still without power back on the grid but as of Nov. 5, no timeline for restoration was given. (Thursday afternoon, LIPA was reporting that more than 1,500 Lynbrook customers still didn't have power.)
For those without heat, Cribbin advised against using kerosene heaters. "Use battery-powered lights not candles," he said. His office has a list of shelter available to residents. Contact Village Hall at 516-599-8300. (For other important phone numbers click here.)
Among the areas of the village still without power at the time was Lynbrook's business district on Atlantic Avenue. Although a few stores did have power, most were still out.
Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce President and Lyn Gift Shop owner Bill Gaylor said, "It's been a pretty tough week for everybody in this village including our business district, but we will all pull together to do whatever we can do to make it better."
Gaylor said the chamber has put out an appeal to all its members and friends to donate to relief efforts including the collection drives at the Lynbrook Recreation Center and Our Lady of Peace Church for Hurricane Sandy victims. He added, "As soon as the village tell us how they would like to receive financial assistance, the chamber is ready, willing and able to make a sizable contribution to the relief of all our residents in this village who have suffered so much."
During the weekend, the Lynbrook Recreation Center, with the help of local residents and roughly 30 volunteers including Little League members, was able to collect and distribute 21 trunk-loads of water, food and supplies to families in nearby Island Park, East Rockaway, Long Beach, Inwood and Freeport, who needed the most help in the wake of Sandy.
"It was just fantastic," said Pat McDermott, of Lynbrook's Recreation Department, adding, "We are still taking supplies."
Discussing the devastation in communities close to Lynbrook, Trustee Thomas Atkinson said, "The nightmare is still continuing for them." He urged residents to seek out avenues to provide assistance, adding, "They can always use more."