Sure, Batman, Spiderman and the Avengers are cool, but through Superstorm Sandy, students in Malverne's Maurice W. Downing Primary School learned that heroes don't only exist in movies and comic books.
To honor the cape-less wonders in their communities who worked tirelessly to protect their families from Sandy's wrath and recover in the wake of the storm, Downing students and faculty held a special breakfast reception Friday for local volunteer firefighters, police officers, EMTs, DPW staff, village leaders and Emergency Management officials.
"These guys are heroes because they saved peoples' lives and they saved their power and kept everyone safe," Downing second-grader Molly, 7, of Lynbrook, told Patch. She was without power for six days due to the storm.
"They helped us and responded to a lot of bad emergencies during the hurricane, " added fellow second grader and Lynbrook resident Billy Brennan. Speaking on behalf of his schoolmates, Brennan, 7, recited “Like Ripples in a Pond," a poem by Laurie Eytel, that expresses both gratitude and the power of an individual to make an impact.
The Nov. 30 reception also included a musical performance by the students and a delicious breakfast buffet, donated by the Malverne Deli, Malverne Pastry Shop, Malverne Bagels, Antonio's Italian-American Deli and Malverne Village Prime Meats. The kids also presented their guests of honor with handmade cards, high fives and even some requests for autographs.
"It was amazing. It lifted us up," Andrew Pierides, an EMT with the Malverne Volunteer Ambulance Corps., told Patch.
"It was overwhelming, unbelievable, and very touching," said Lynbrook Fire Chief Anthony "Zemo" DeCarlo of the reception. His favorite part was the students' rendition of Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You," which DeCarlo described as "a big tear-jerker." He left with a stack of posters and cards made by the students, which he'll be displaying inside his office.
"The kids did a real nice job. It was a nice surprise," added Malverne Fire Chief Scott Edwards.
During the week of Superstorm Sandy, the Lynbrook Volunteer Fire Department responded to more than 110 calls, including four fires. The Malverne Fire Department, which usually averages about 350 to 380 calls for the entire year, responded to 172 alarms during the week of Sandy, including 63 on Oct. 29, the day the storm made landfall.
"Sandy was unbelievable. The wind damage that Malverne sustained and the flood damage on the South Shore was unprecedented," Edwards stated.
Malverne firefighters have also been assisting departments in Long Beach, Point Lookout and Island Park, which lost equipment, fire trucks and even members, who were displaced to other areas. "Those departments were completely decimated," Edwards added.
Recalling the night Sandy struck the area, Malverne DPW worker James Antonette told Patch, "We were cutting trees, while other trees were falling down nearby. It was crazy."
Then, in the midst of the post-storm storm clean-up the DPW also had to contend with a snowstorm. "We were putting in 18 hour days," said Antonette, of Wantagh. One month later, he adds, "We're still not done."
Bill Ward, the coordinator of Malverne's Office of Emergency Management, said as always, the village's departments worked extremely well together throughout the storm.
"This was great," he said Friday of the students’ tribute. "The kids did a fantastic job and it really was appreciated."
Click through the gallery above to see photos from the Nov. 30 reception at Downing.