Malverne Fire Chief Scott Edwards spent 48 hours responding to calls during the height of superstorm Sandy.
Burning electrical wires. Sparking transformers. Fallen trees. Evacuating a family from a home that had its roof punctured by a neighbor’s collapsed chimney that collapsed.
Edwards and his nearly 30 volunteer firefighters answered 60 emergency alarms the day Sandy swept onto Long Island. By the end of the week, the department had responded to 172.
“We’ve received calls and letters from residents thanking us,” said Edwards, 33, of Malverne. “It really drives home the point of why we do this. When people say ‘thank you,’ there’s no better feeling than that.”
On Friday, Edwards and 29 other first responders were honored by Maurice W. Downing Primary School students with a breakfast that featured poetry readings and singing by the kids.
Students high-fived the men and women from the Lakeview, Lynbrook and Malverne fire departments, Malverne Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Malverne Department of Public Works as they walked into the school and down the hall.
Second-grader Billy Brennan recited a poem by Laurie Eytel, “Like Ripples in a Pond,” to thank them for their service.
“We thank you for all the great things you do, large and small, they all have meaning to the students you help and to our community,” read Brennan, 7, of Lynbrook. “One act can make all the difference. Like ripples in a pond kindness spreads outward.”
Brennan and 33 other members of the school’s student council joined the first responders as they ate eggs, bacon and pastries.
Marguerite Robles, student council adviser at the school, helped students rehearse poems and create handwritten holiday cards to give to volunteers and village employees who helped in recovery efforts.
“This is a perfect foundation to set the stage for students to volunteer,” said Robles, a first-grade teacher at the school. “Hopefully, some of these kids will be able to use the skills they learn through these community service projects to help others when they grow up.”
To close out the morning, students sang Stevie Wonder’s hit “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” holding their hands to their ears as if on the telephone.
Joe Toscano, a member of the Malverne Department of Public Works, sang along and then immediately after received four handwritten “thank you” cards from students.
“The consideration from people so young is outstanding,” said Toscano, 33, of Baldwin. “I feel very honored.”
Toscano recalls spending 23 hours straight the day Sandy hit, helping clear the roads to make way for emergency vehicles and then working 17-hour days for weeks after.
“At the end of the day, it is our job, but it’s gratifying to know that people do appreciate what we do,” he said. “I feel honored to have these kids do all this for us.”