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Op-Ed: United to Build a Better, Stronger Community

Councilman writes on the storm's impact on the district.

The following was written by Town of Hempstead Councilman Anthony J. Santino 

Superstorm Sandy left its menacing mark on our entire community.  Many neighborhoods took the brunt of Sandy’s wrath - fierce winds and a monstrous storm surge.  Residents lost their homes, cars, furniture, and perhaps most importantly, priceless and irreplaceable memories in the form of photos, letters and mementos that took a lifetime to accumulate.  Many neighbors also suffered raw sewage coming into their homes through drains and basements.

Virtually all of us lost power for weeks due to the inability – and unpreparedness - of the Long Island Power Authority to adequately prepare for this storm.  The LIPA Board of Trustees, appointed by the Governor, and its management did not only fail to learn any valuable lessons over the past three weather catastrophes, but also fell far short of running an even tangible recovery operation to restore power to more than 1.2 million people on Long Island left in the dark.

However, in the wake of the devastation, our community has banded together like never before, united in our determination to help one another get back on our feet and rebuild.

Throughout this crisis, our community and all of the Town of Hempstead have really shown what we are made of.  From neighbors helping neighbors, to first responders and municipal employees forsaking their own homes and family emergencies to man their posts and provide crucial government services, this was unquestionably one of our community’s finest times.

My office logged hundreds of hours responding to every constituent concern that was brought to my attention.  Every phone call, letter, e-mail and yes, even Facebook message and wall post I received was promptly responded to – either with direct answers or by making contact with the proper agency outside of town government that could assist.

While not nearly all-inclusive, here are some particularly noteworthy examples of dedication that deserve our thanks: the chiefs and members of our Fire Departments, our auxiliary police, the dedicated workers of County and Village Departments of Public Works, Town of Hempstead Sanitation and Highway Departments, the officers of the Nassau County Police 1st and 4th Precincts, the rank-and-file workers of LIPA who helped clear the trees and restored the power (while LIPA’s management proved itself inept and dysfunctional, the rank and file worker did a great job under horrible conditions), and of course the electrical workers who traveled from around the country to assist us in our hour of need, our community’s houses of worship and non-profit groups that were organizing relief efforts from virtually the moment that Sandy pushed across Long Island.

Our community was knocked down, but not out, by Sandy.  Working together, as neighbors and friends, we will be back better and stronger than ever before.  I remain dedicated to seeing this through, in order to make things right.  Feel free to contact me at 516-812-3200 or via e-mail at asantino@tohmail.org if I can aid you, your family or neighbors.

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