The Long Island Power Authority did pull crews from Malverne to send them to Manhasset this week but a crew from North Carolina has been working non-stop, even living in the village, as they try to bring back on the grid.
Village of Malverne officials used Wednesday's board meeting as a means to update residents on how they have been working to keep them safe throughout Hurricane Sandy, and restore power to those who have been in the dark for going on 10 days.
"All of the village's departments are working extremely well. They've done everything, but mow your grass for you," said Deputy Mayor Joseph Hennessy, who has assumed Mayor Patricia Norris McDonald's duties as she has been in Europe on a important mission trip.
"So far, she's left me a hurricane and a snow storm," Hennessy joked. On a serious note, he assured residents that the village board has been in regular contact with the mayor and they have everything "under control."
Malverne's Office of Emergency Management and its Police, Fire, and Department of Public Works have been working non-stop since the evening before Hurricane Sandy struck the area.
The Malverne Volunteer Fire Department, which typically responds to a total of 320 calls a year, has chased after more than 110 calls between Wednesday night and when they went on standby Oct. 28.
On the night of the hurricane, the Malverne Police Department had more than 140 calls come in, mainly from trees falling on houses and roadways.
"Thankfully, we didn't have any reports of any serious aideds as a result, which is unbelievable," Lieutenant John Otto said.
Malverne's Police Reserve have also been assisting cops in regularly patrolling the village, especially the dark, powerless blocks, which could explain why, unlike many other local communities, Malverne has not had one documented case of looting in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Trustee Jack O'Brien, the village's Police Commissioner, added, "If you're a burglar looking to break into a house and you see all these cops driving around, you're going to go to another town."
Paul Jessup, superintendent of Malverne's Department of Public Works, said his men have "gone way above and beyond" responding to what he called "a storm of biblical proportions." DPW crews expeditiously cleared well over 100 downed trees, re-opening roadways and enabling utility crews to get to work on restoring power to the area. Then, they had to plow roads and drop salt on the roads when the village was hit with a Nor'easter Wednesday that dropped more than six inches of snow.
The DPW also gave up its headquarters on Hempstead Avenue to house utility crews from North Carolina, so they could have a place in the village to stay when not working on the outages. The workers have cots and access to a kitchen and showers, better accomodations than what LIPA had given them.
"In return they've been here committed to us," Hennessy said. Since their arrival, hundreds of Malverne homes, street lights and traffic signals have finally been restored.
"We don't have any entire streets, just pieces of streets, still without power," Trustee Michael Bailey said. Village officials have been keeping a running list of streets that need power, participating in LIPA's twice-daily conference calls and receiving support from NYS Assemblyman Brian Curran and Sen. Dean Skelos.
"We seem to be getting people back on line and their lives as close to normal as possible," said Jessup, who admits he's been "harassing [the utility crews] to stay in the village."
Jessup did tell residents though that even if the cause of their power outage "looks like a quick fix," it could be connected to a more complicated one. "If you turn it on, it could energize a section that could be blocks away that is a devastation area [and] needs to be fixed first," he said.
Malverne Fire Chief Scott Edwards said residents should stay at least three feet away from any downed wires, assuming they all could be live. "You never know where LIPA may be working," he said. "It may energize a certain area, which could energize downed wires on your street."
He also urged residents not to use their stoves to heat their homes and for those using generators, to never bring them indoors, keep them atleast 3 feet from your home and the exhaust pointing away from the house to avoid deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
As for the few Malverne homes rendered "uninhabitable" by Hurricane Sandy, Trustee Bailey said the village's Building Department has been working with the owners. It's also implemented an "express lane approach" for homeowners who need to have repairs done. Although the village still requires contractors to be licensed and acquire necessary permits, it will allow them to simultaneously file with the Building Department while performing the work.
Bailey said the regulations are in place to protect residents, adding, that especially in the wake of Sandy, "There's a lot of people out there looking to make a quick buck."
Although the phones at Village Hall are still down, the offices are open during normal business hours for residents to come in for assistance.
"We are not perfect," Hennessy said. "But every member of this board is deeply concerned and cares about the people of this village who are without electricity ... they are cold, some are sick, some are on chemo, some are bedridden … we can't do anything more than what we are doing."