With the vast majority of the Village of New Hyde Park cleaned up after Hurricane Sandy, the village board took time during its November 8 meeting at the village hall to detail and applaud the efforts of its department of public works crews during and immediately after the storm as well as provide an accounting of the events that transpired.
After declaring a state of emergency on October 29, which is technically still in effect, the village saw over 70 trees fall, many lying on houses.
Crews completed the first phase of the cleanup on November 4. The village is currently evaluating trees and branches, removing debris on village property and damaged street lamps and signs. Phase 3 of the cleanup involves repair and reconstruction of sidewalks and roads, which is also currently underway as the village had their road contractor begin some of the roadwork on November 7. Regular curbside leaf pickup has been suspended until further notice but sanitation pickup will be on regular schedule going forward.
There was no reported damage to village facilities.
“For the most part our DPW facility, our community center as well as village hall and the rest of the village property remains intact,” deputy mayor Robert Lofaro said.
The deputy mayor added that he was “grateful” to the department of public works employees for their “tireless” efforts, singling out superintendent Tom Gannon and Debbie Malhotra.
“The amount of effort that Tom put in really around the clock doesn’t really say enough for the amount of time that Tom was putting in and has been putting in and for all I know, still is,” trustee Lawrence Montreuil said. “The people of New Hyde Park should be really proud of work that Tom did on our behalf.”
To top it off, the village was then hit by the nor’easter, with many residents inquiring as to why their streets were not plowed.
Describing the roads as “like an obstacle course” due to low-hanging branches that still bore leaves that the snow had brought down to street level as well as low-hanging electrical and other wires, Lofaro said that the department of public works crews were assigned to clear branches and debris from roadways to ensure emergency vehicles had access to streets.
“As a result, they were unable to operate the plows,” Lofaro said. “Nearly every block in the village had at least one large branch that would have damaged our plows if we had made contact with it trying to remove it.”
The Long Island Railroad system also went down during the snowstorm, leaving a train at the station with gates down at both South 12th Street and New Hyde Park Road while the fire department was trying to make their way across and had to use Covert Avenue.
The New Hyde Park Fire Department answered approximately 55 calls in the 6 hour time-frame of the hurricane as well as answering a call of a fatal apartment fire.
“The men of the sanitation group worked on Election Day, which was their holiday,” Lofaro said, “to provide an additional collection collection for the south side and will take a day off when it gets back to normal in the village. Almost in the spirit of volunteerism, they offer to say ‘hey, listen, we’re supposed to be off on Election Day but you need us and we want to help.’ I’m so proud of them for that sacrifice.”
The deputy mayor added that Gannon was “relentless” in trying to get LIPA crews to the village to help restore power.
The village has had two 6-year contracts with the department of public works employees, which is considerably longer and more stable than most municipalities.
“Everything we “gave” in the negotiation was earned, there was nothing, no fringes, it was negotiated like any negotiation,” Mayor Daniel Petruccio commented, “but I think the good will and the sentiment of the board toward the workers paid dividends on that storm because truthfully if they had held us to the letter of the law to the contract, we wouldn’t have gotten half of what we received from them.”