Letter to Residents – Superstorm Sandy

Mayor Wayne J. Hall, Sr.

Dear Residents:

Over the last two and a half weeks I have met with many families and individuals impacted by Superstorm Sandy. I have spoken with seniors stranded by themselves during the storm, and to the loved ones of those who were sick and/or disabled and who were especially affected. Walking the streets and visiting the many blocks in our village, I witnessed the devastation of the storm’s aftermath. I felt the frustration of our residents who went without heat, hot water and/or electricity for days. My family was similarly affected, so I understand the discomfort and inconvenience experienced by many, as well as the pain of those more severely affected. I understand also, based on LIPA’s response, that LIPA, our county, and federal government must do more to better prepare for natural disasters and weather emergencies. As such, I have expressed our village’s frustration and dissatisfaction to LIPA’s representatives, and working with county and local political leaders, I am calling on our federal and state representatives to do more to ensure that our region and LIPA are better prepared to respond effectively in such situations. I will continue to urge our representatives to make the changes necessary to protect our village and make sure that our region does not experience the delays, disruptions, loss of power, inconveniences and life hazards that occurred during the storm.

I thank you and all village residents, businesses and organizations who worked together to ensure that all of Hempstead got through the storm safely and without loss of life or limb. I extend a special thanks to the our own DPW (Department of Public Works), the Red Cross, Salvation Army, FEMA, and other organizations who came together to aid our residents and other members of Nassau County.

In the coming weeks I will hold a public meeting to discuss the impact of the storm and how we plan to move forward in the case of future emergencies. FEMA representatives, LIPA, government officials and other local agencies will be invited to participate. Once a date has been chosen for the meeting, it will be announced via our website and in the local papers.

The Village will also participate in a meeting about emergency preparedness and how Nassau County was affected. That meeting will be at the Freeport Public Library (144 West Merrick Rd, Freeport) from 7-9PM on Monday, November 26th. For more information on the event, call Legislator Kevan Abrahams’ office at: 516-571-6201. Call the storm information hotline for any additional questions you may have related to Superstorm Sandy: 516-571-2455.

For those who are interested, I will also make available ‘A Guide to Disaster Assistance and Relief Funding, How to Navigate the Disaster Assistance Process’. The booklet was prepared
by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand. It will be available beginning Tuesday, visit the village website at www.villageofhempstead.org to download a copy.

My Administration’s Efforts to Get Our Village Back on Track After Sandy

Superstorm Sandy decimated much of Nassau County and other communities throughout New York, NJ and the northeast. Here in Hempstead we were also heavily impacted, with many homeowners suffering losses and damages to their property, along with major inconveniences. I want to assure you that throughout the storm and in the days following I have been in ongoing contact with local LIPA representatives and management. I have informed them of the damages sustained by residents and of the frustrations, disruptions and inconveniences experienced by our village. In order to expedite recovery efforts we established a staging crew for LIPA’s various trucks and storm recovery/rehabilitation crews in the village. As a result of our efforts, the majority of the village is functioning at normal capacity, and power has been restored to virtually all homeowners and businesses.

Again, I want to commend Village residents for coming together during this difficult time and for working with your neighbors to make the best of a difficult situation. Ordinary residents, churches, civic organizations and nonprofits came together to assist neighbors experiencing difficulty. Many residents reached out to seniors, the disabled and other residents who needed assistance during the storm.

Our Departments of Public Works, Police, Fire, and Fire Alarm worked around the clock to clear trees and roadways, ensure our village was safe and get us back to proper functioning as quickly as possible. DPW and other essential departments worked closely with LIPA to help resolve residents’ complaints. Although many of us were frustrated with the delays in regaining power, I am pleased to report that village workers did their best to respond to village residents as quickly as possible and to communicate the urgency of our village’s needs to LIPA’s leadership and to direct their crews to priority needs.

The Storm’s Impact on Hempstead

Although a dollar figure has not yet been assessed for damages, our Department of Public Works, has compiled information on some of the storm’s impact.

Superstorm Sandy uprooted approximately 150 trees and blocked 40 roads. All 40 road blockages were cleared by the end of the next day following the storm. Thirty-two trees fell on houses, and 35 fell on front lawns and side yards. All of these have also been cleared. One hundred-fifty large tree limbs and over 300 small tree limbs fell on roadways and village property, including front lawns and side yards. One-hundred fifty tree stumps were left behind by the storm, including 75 uproots that took pieces of the curb or street out of the ground with them. In addition, some 6000 cubic yards of debris have been collected by our sanitation department.

DPW has made significant headway in the clearing and removal of trees, and continues to collect and clean up debris resulting from the storm. Cleanup of tree debris and restoration of curbs and gutters should be completed within two months.

The damage caused by Superstorm Sandy is immense and as the county, state and federal governments calculate the costs, we will learn more. Here in Hempstead we know that the storm did more than interrupt lives. It created emergency medical situations and made life difficult for many. Sandy disrupted businesses, cost employers and employees man-hours, wages and revenue. In many ways, we will never be able to assess the storm’s true cost. But despite all of this we also know that Hempstead is a strong and united community. We know that we are a village of helping hands, where one neighbor turns to another to assist during emergencies. We know that we are fortunate not to have lost lives or to have been even more deeply impacted.

In the months ahead, as we work to help our community recover, I want you to reach out to me if you have questions or if you need help to navigate the recovery process. I will continue to reach out to FEMA to ensure that they respond to those of you who have experienced losses covered by their programs. If you sustained losses, you can begin applying for assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362 or registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov. If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, you should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362.

God Bless and Stay Well,
Mayor Wayne J. Hall, Sr.

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