Editor's Note: This article was written and submitted by Chris Boyle.
Hurricane Sandy certainly left her mark on the Merrick area in a number of ways – power outages, flooding, and property damage – and one major byproduct of all that mayhem being felt in one area many people might not realize; the laundry basket. Steve’s Valet Cleaners and Tailors
owner Marc Tolchinsky has seen an upswing in Sandy-related wash in the days and weeks following the dreaded Superstorm...at least, once he was back open for business.
“We were down until Friday morning without power, so we were closed four days,” Tolchinsky said. “There was no flooding, no damage, nothing like that. We did lose our fish, however. We have a fish tank in the store, and we lost our five biggest fish. It was awful to watch.”
Tolchinsky, who purchased Steve’s Valet five years ago, said that once he was back up and running, victims of the hurricane started hauling in their duds for cleaning. Wanting to do his part for those less fortunate, he decided to help out by not charging them a dime for the work.
“Anybody who walked in the door, I mean, you can just tell...I just said it’s on us,” he said. “Underwear, towels...everything to help them out. A lot of these people didn’t even have a washer or a dryer anymore due to the flooding. A bunch of customers of mine came in and asked if I could wash their things, and I said sure.”
Of course, this turned out to be a major undertaking for the small yet busy cleaning establishment, Tolchinsky said.
“We started getting calls for big pick-ups,” he added. “I had one customer who had just moved into her house in Friday, and the storm was Monday, and she had all her clothes in her garage. The water came right through the garage. She had about 600 pieces of clothing to clean, and it was all full of sewer water.”
“The clothes really get contaminated,” Tolchinsky continued. “You can see things like the zippers and the buckles become corroded immediately from whatever’s in the water. It’s terrible. A lot of people just threw away their stuff, but if you have your whole wardrobe and it’s all brand-new stuff and expensive, it is fixable, but you’re really got to work hard on it.”
However, despite the hard work, Tolchinsky said that just being able to give back to the community was the right thing to do during such dire circumstances.
“Well, there’s the money part, but that’s the labor, and I’m the labor, so it’s free,” he said. “It’s hard to charge people in need, especially when I didn’t get hit so badly. So, I’ll take it...we’re just very happy to be here.”
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