After Sandy, dwindling patience in Mastic Beach
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Evidence of dwindling patience was on display in Mastic Beach Friday.
"We have no resources," said village mayor Bill Biondi, adding, "The response is just very poor and it's very frustrating."
While extra National Guard and Army personnel had been deployed to help distribute food, check on homes in the village and to patrol the vulnerable neighborhood, the extra manpower had moved on after a day.
The residents were getting angry, he said. "People are saying, 'Where's the power, where's LIPA, it's getting cold out.'"
Moments later, a woman walked into Village Hall with three children, and angrily demanded that her taxes be refunded because power hadn't been restored to her Cranberry Drive home yet.
"I find this to be ridiculous," she said to village staffers, including Biondi. The woman, who declined to give her name, said her kids had no heat as temperatures plummeted, and asked if there was a way to just have power at night to heat the house.
"Nothing is wrong with complaining. You have every right to do that," Biondi said. "But where are our resources?"
"I'm not happy," she said as she walked out.
"No one is happy," Biondi said.
He said he is frustrated at the lack of support from the county. "The people of Suffolk County need to get down here," Biondi said.
FEMA visited the village Friday morning and assessed the damage. "They were surprised at the devastation," Biondi said.
His newest concern is that homes flooded by sea water will become fire hazards once power is restored and circuits come in deadly contact with salt.
"We're telling people if there was salt water damage to their house, to get out," he said. "The water is gone now, but the mold, and the water mixed with home heating oil" present other dangers.
People weren't necessarily listening, he acknowledged. But he still asked that residents with salt water damage go to shelters for the time being. "Wait til we get a team in there to assess the situation in the home," he said.
The town nutrition center at 369 Neighborhood Rd. is stocked with Red Cross provisions and will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. over the weekend, Biondi said, adding that people could call code enforcement for access to the provisions at any hour. The number is 631-926-0051.
Another resource for residents is the Red Cross feeding area at the Mastic Fire Department on Herkimer and Mastic roads, where about 6,600 sandwiches are to be delivered daily through Thursday, according to Red Cross contracted food emergency services vendor Robert Larkin. The uneaten food will be thrown out every night because of the lack of available storage, so Larkin encouraged residents to avail themselves.