Written by Ronald Scaglia Friday, 09 November 2012 00:00
“I thought my house was going to blow away,” one local homeowner told Levittown Tribune. As he was working on the monumental task of cleaning up his home after the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy; he spoke about the frightening feeling that his home would come apart during the storm. Many Levittown homes incurred tremendous damage, as did so many homes throughout Long Island, and in particular, Nassau County. As with many Nassau residents, much of residents’ belongings were ruined and they are left with the task of rebuilding a home.
It is a scene that is devastatingly similar throughout Long Island, and particularly in waterfront areas on the north and south shores. Homeowners desperately tried to remove the water that had flooded homes by opening doors, windows, garage doors, and by using generator-powered vacuums, designed to capture water. Along curbsides, carpets, furniture, clothing, toys, and other treasured belongings were left for sanitation crews to take away. Literally, lifetimes of memories had been washed away.
The storm made landfall on Monday, October 29. Although it should have been a regular business day, anyone making their way through the heavy wind and rain realized that it was anything but an ordinary Monday. Businesses that are usually jammed with midday lunch crowds were vacant. Long Island Rail Road stations, were deserted, with not a train or a commuter to be found. Schools were closed and would remain shut for more than a week. Businesses that remained opened were hard to find, although there were a few proprietors who did brave the massive storm.
The brunt of the storm hit the island around 7 p.m. The heavy wind and rain knocked down trees and power lines, and did tremendous damage to so many homes throughout the county. Nassau Police reported the death of a Roslyn man, who was killed from head injuries he suffered when struck by a falling tree. The man had ventured outside around 7:30 p.m. that evening, to move his vehicle.
The next morning, Sandy had left and Long Islanders were greeted by sunshine and calm weather conditions, but the clear skies also made the damage Sandy had left in its wake much more visible. Long Islanders were also left with another harsh reality, that electrical power would not be returning all that quickly. According to the Long Island Power Authority, approximately 970,000 customers had lost power, and the utility was advising its customers to prepare for outages of seven to 10 days. As of Monday, November 5, at 8 a.m., LIPA was reporting that about 270,000 customers remained without power. The utility said that 90 percent of customers should have power restored by the evening of Wednesday, November 7, although some areas, including Brookville, could expect a longer delay.
The utility had been criticized for delays in restoring power to Long Islanders following Hurricane Irene in August 2011. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo repeatedly stated in the days following the hurricane that he was closely monitoring the work of utility companies in restoring power. He sent a letter the CEOs of utility companies that operate in New York State, including Michael Hervey, chief operating officer of the Long Island Power Authority. In that letter, Cuomo said he would take appropriate action against utilities companies and their management if they did not meet their obligations to New Yorkers in this time of crisis. Although the letter was sent to all of the CEOs, Cuomo specifically mentioned LIPA.
The letter stated, “The response of your companies to this emergency will be, in great part, a function of how well you prepared for it and a testament to how seriously you view this responsibility.
If you failed to prepare, however, as evidenced by your response, it is a failure to keep your part of the bargain – a failure to keep the trust that New Yorkers have placed in you by granting you the privilege to conduct utility business in New York State; in particular, the certificates of public convenience and necessity (‘Certificate’) granted by the State under the Public Service Law. New Yorkers should not suffer because electric utilities did not reasonably prepare for this eventuality. In the context of the ongoing emergency, such a failure constitutes a breach of the public trust.
Under such circumstances, I would direct the Public Service Commission to commence a proceeding to revoke your Certificates. With respect to the Long Island Power Authority, I will make every change necessary to ensure it lives up to its public responsibility. It goes without saying that such failures would warrant the removal of the management responsible for such colossal misjudgments.”
Congressman Peter King visited some of Long Island’s hardest hit areas with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. The congressman blasted LIPA.
“LIPA’s failure to keep customers informed of the latest information on conditions and improvements is simply unacceptable,” King said in a statement. “County Executive Mangano and I have heard so many complaints from many Long Island towns and neighborhoods about the ‘arrogant’ and unhelpful attitude of so many of LIPA employees as well as LIPA’s failure to respond to legitimate inquiries from those without power.”
In addition to dealing with a shortage of power, Long Islanders would also have to deal with a shortage of gas. Many gas stations with fuel in the tanks did not have power for the pumps, while those with power had the tanks quickly emptied by anxious Long Islanders who feared the possibility of gas not being delivered for days. Where there was a gas station with both power and gas, there was sure to be a line of at least a mile.
“I’ve been here since five in the morning,” griped one customer as he waited on line at a local Sunoco station. He waited in line hoping to fill his tank as a delivery was expected around 4 p.m. that afternoon. A few weeks ago, it would seem unthinkable that drivers would be desperate to pay more than $4 per gallon to fill up their tanks, but the effects of Sandy had truly created an unusual situation. With that, also came the opportunity for price gouging.
Attorney General Schneiderman reported receiving hundreds of complaints from consumers from New York City, the Hudson Valley and Long Island. While the largest number of complaints related to increased gasoline prices, consumers contacted the Attorney General to report possible gouging for emergency supplies like generators, hotels raising rates due to “high demand,” as well as increased prices for food and water. The Attorney General noted that these complaints might not meet the threshold for coverage under New York’s gouging statute, but encouraged consumers to contact his office to report anything that appears suspicious.
“Our office is taking every complaint seriously. Staff from regional offices across the state are triaging and acting on consumer complaints as they come in. We have contacted the targets as part of a preliminary inquiry and vendors are now on notice. While most retailers understand that customers are also neighbors, and would never think of taking advantage of New Yorkers during such disruptive times, emergency circumstances always require an extra sense of vigilance,” Schneiderman said.
Attorney General Schneiderman urged New Yorkers to call his office at 800-771-7755 or log on to his office’s website, www.ag.ny.gov, to make a complaint. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is also advising residents that they may contact the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs at 516-571-2600, to make a complaint.
After the hurricane, Island Trees Superintendent Dr. Charles Murphy said, “Levittowners showed perseverance, determination and spirit throughout the ordeal; I heard wonderful stories of neighbors, friends and families helping each other through Hurricane Sandy.” He continued, “Sadly, many of our students are still without power and are weathering this nor’easter tonight.” The Island Trees Board of Education opened and manned the schools beginning on Friday, Nov. 2, so the community could recharge cell phones, DVD players, iPads and other electronic devices. In addition, the board served coffee, donuts and other snacks to all of the adults and children who showed up. More than 100 people each day stop by to recharge their batteries, themselves, as well as support each other. Murphy said, “It really was something to see; a really terrific community and a really terrific school board.”
Local resident, Ann Torcivia told the Tribune on Nov. 8 that she just recently had power restored to her home, “thanks to my good friend and Legislator Dennis Dunne for stepping in and getting things done; he is the best man in Levittown as far as I am concerned.”
She said she waited in line for gas for three hours at Hempstead Turnpike and Gardiners Avenue. “There was a long line for gas cans, and I helped some seniors by giving them my gas and paying it for them,” said Torcivia. “One man cried as he waited for two hours on line; he was old and I had to help him.” She was happy that the man was able to get gas for his own generator, and less concerned that she ended up with less gas for herself. She said, “That was my ‘aha’ moment of this storm.”
According to Governor Cuomo’s website, those affected by the storm may register for FEMA assistance by calling 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) or visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov (or m.fema.gov from a smartphone or Web-enabled device). There is never a fee to apply for FEMA disaster assistance or to receive it. There is no fee for FEMA or U.S. Small Business Administration property damage inspections. Those who seek assistance should be aware that government workers will never ask for a fee or payment and wear a photo ID. Residents should be cautious of middlemen who promise you will receive money, especially if they ask for an up-front payment.
Saturday, 26 July 2014 00:00
A clown named Renaldo performed magic tricks for an enthusiastic audience as part of the National Circus Project, which visited Levittown Public Library on Wednesday, July 16.
All 150 tickets available for the performance were sold out in this interactive magic show for children. Throughout the entire circus act, children laughed and raised their hands as high as they could to be chosen as one of Renaldo’s helpers.
Raising her hand to participate was three-year-old Kirsten Cantwell from Seaford. “She was upset that she didn’t get picked,” said her mother Melissa Cantwell.
Kirsten Cantwell goes to any activity offered at the library, and is starting to enjoy watching magic shows. According to her mother, she really enjoyed the performance.
In the circus show, National Circus Project performer, Al Calienes, acted as Renaldo the clown.
“The show has different components of acts in the circus,” explained Calienes. “We teach children circus moves.”
With the National Circus Project, children get to see magic tricks performed live. “We infuse enthusiasm by showing them, and they in turn will be able to repeat the process,” said Calienes.
Renaldo performed plate spinning, where he spun a plate on a stick and passed it along to the stick of one of his helpers from the audience, who then passed the plate down a line of three more helpers. This interactive way of teaching the children magic tricks really allows them to absorb what they are learning.
The National Circus Project travels and performs for elementary schools, as well as middle and high schools. When the National Circus Project is not going to schools, they perform at library shows, summer camps, and other types of events.
The performance entertains the adults as well as the children. “We involve everybody,” said Calienes. “Everybody’s engaged on some level or another. “
At every library performance, Calienes donates the children’s book he wrote and illustrated Renaldo Joins the Circus to the library. He feels that he owes a lot to the library system. “Anything that ever meant anything to me I learned in the library,” said Calienes.
Calienes learned how to draw from the library, which is how he became a commercial artist. One of the main characters he would always draw would be Renaldo the clown. “I wanted to make him real so I joined the circus,” he said.
Calienes has been performing with the National Circus Project for seven years and has been in the circus business going on 26 years.
The National Circus Project brings magic to children at any school, camp or library all over Long Island as well as across the country.
Friday, 25 July 2014 00:00
Last June, Nassau County passed legislation that allows for the deployment of a speed enforcement camera system in school zones for each of the 56 public school districts in the county.
The new systems will be implemented throughout the county on July 25, and will be operational on scheduled school days throughout the year.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Levittown’s Division Avenue High School varsity baseball team, under the direction of coach Tom Tuttle, won the Class A County Championship, garnering a third-place ranking in New York State. This is the team’s 13th county championship win and the second county championship for the school in the past four years.
In addition, senior Chris Reilly was named Championship MVP for throwing a complete game shutout in game two and going three for four with two RBIs.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Taylor Traenkle, a junior at Division Avenue High School recently received the MVP award for the Nassau County Varsity Hockey League Association.
Traenkle, who plays no. 9 for the Levittown Ice Falcons, led the way averaging 2.8 points a game with a total of 25 goals and 23 assists in just 17 games.