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South Merrick Civic Talks Sandy Impact

Editor's Note: This article was written and submitted by Chris Boyle.

The South Merrick Civic Association meeting for November focused on the effects that Hurricane Sandy has had on the local community.

According to South Merrick Civic President Joe Baker, County Executive Ed Mangano, who had originally been slated to appear at the meeting, had to reschedule to January.

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Among the many areas negatively impacted by Sandy’s passing was the Civic Association’s Merrick Road Improvement Committee’s recent progress. Baker explained that the generous gifts of a local businessman were literally washed away by Sandy several weeks ago.

“Mike of Mike and Marco’s Landscaping and Design donated and installed a new sign at Lakeside School out of his pocket,” Baker said. “It was probably valued at about $4,000. He also donated a garden at Lakeside as well as two gardens at Cameron’s Pond. All of it was destroyed by the storm.”

However, the Improvement Committee was deterred by this unfortunate setback. Baker also said that Mike and Marco’s Landscaping was planning on donating planters to be displayed in front of businesses on Merrick Road, or at least, those businesses willing to water the flowers in them.

Tom Nizza, a regular at the Civic meetings, had lost a great deal due to Hurricane Sandy. He is currently in the process of leasing new cars after four of his family’s were destroyed by flooding at his home.

“My wife did tell me to move the cars before the storm,” Nizza said. “I could have moved them to the railroad station, because there are no trees there to fall on them, or any flood water. So, we went to the Toyota dealer to lease two new cars. The insurance company will be sending me a check for the Bluebook value of the cars I lost.”

Resident Gary Barnofsky blamed both politicians and members of the public who regularly campaign against additions to the area such as cell phone and water towers or preventative measures such as tree-trimming, for some of the communication and power issues the community faced post-Sandy.

“Cell service after the storm on Long Island was abysmal,” Barnofsky said. “You have these people who fight against cell towers near their homes or fight against their trees being trimmed when they could fall and take down power lines during a storm, but when they lose their power due to falling tree limbs or their cell phones don’t work, they want to kill people. I don’t get it. Me, I would take a cell tower in my back yard, no problem.”

A general feeling that neither the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) nor local or state governments were in any way prepared to deal with a storm of Sandy’s magnitude prevailed at the civic meeting. Discussion pertaining to such centered on the possibility of replacing LIPA as a whole with a origination with more accountability and better communication, both with residents, local government and LIPA’s own workers and sub-contractors, many of whom were roaming almost randomly throughout the streets without any guidance from headquarters, according to Baker.

Baker suggested a plan where local civic leaders could possibly act as liaisons between the community and LIPA during crisis situations. However, his first attempt at implementing such a plan after Sandy’s passing met an unfortunate stumbling block...LIPA itself.

“I called LIPA after the storm, told them I was the president of the South Merrick Civic Association, and offered to be their point of contact so I could communicate things like local power outages to them,” Baker said. “They told me that was a great idea, took down my number, but I never heard from them again. But there needs to be some kind of plan in place in the future.”

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