Mayor Ralph Suozzi and 31 members of Glen Cove's Department of Public Works traveled to hard-hit Long Beach Sunday to assist with cleanup of debris from Hurricane Sandy.
"It's a tremendous effort down there. There's garbage everywhere," Suozzi said.
Suozzi headed a convoy of five garbage trucks, four dump trucks, a bucket truck, a chipper, one backhoe and an excavator. The group also included two mechanics.
"It was like a military action," Suozzi said.
Suozzi said the idea formed when he shared a panel at a Vision Long Island conference Friday with Long Beach city manager Jack Schnirman. Suozzi asked Schnirman how many of the city's 35,000 residents had been affected. Schnirman responded: 35,000.
Suozzi immediately texted Deputy Mayor Maureen Basdavanos and DPW director William Archambault. Despite DPW crews working all day Saturday to clear debris from their own city's streets, more than two dozen men agreed to join the effort.
The quarter-mile-long convoy left the DPW yard at 6 a.m. Sunday, escorted by Glen Cove Police to the city's border and two Nassau County Police cars all the way to Long Beach.
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Crews worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. loading debris from streets and devastated properties.
"Two twin boys and their little sister went up to one guy and said 'thank you' and hugged him. He almost lost it," Suozzi said.
He said the enormity of the job was clear once crews set to work.
"A [garbage] truck that does an entire neighborhood in an hour was parked in front of one house for one or two hours," said Suozzi. That truck can handle 20,000 pounds of material, he said.
"We weren't looking at houses. We were looking at contents of houses," said Suozzi. "We didn't make a dent in it. It's such a mess down there."
He said the Glen Cove crews want to return next week.
"If they need us, we'll be back," he said.
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