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Letters: The recovery from Sandy

A recovery crew removes desks and chairs that

A recovery crew removes desks and chairs that were damaged during suprtstorm Sandy at East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School. (Nov. 8, 2012) Credit: David Pokress

Our lives and property were spared after "Frankenstorm" Sandy, and we are extremely fortunate.

Material goods, although nice are not that important -- life is precious. This Thanksgiving will be especially more meaningful. We feel blessed to have survived the storm, to have shelter, heat, food, clean water and meaningful relationships and experiences with family, friends, and neighbors. Thank you!

Alisa Kremer-Parrott, West Sayville

P.S. My husband is a New York City firefighter and he hasn't been home for over a week due to the storm. Hopefully, he'll get home soon!

Today (Nov. 11) Newsday's Travel section had an article on Cinque Terre, Italy's devastation from a flood and mudslides, one year ago.

Writer Rick Steves was "amazed by the progress and moved by the locals' devotion to restoring their chunk of Mediterranean paradise."

Although these villages may be much smaller than the area of devastation in New York and New Jersey, this article should be an inspiration for us to move quickly to restore our villages. This is not the time for politics and petty arguments. Lets get together and restore our beautiful seaside villages for the benefit of not only the homeowners, but also for the benefit of all who live in this beautiful area and tourists. We cannot afford to bicker. Let's get it done.

Jacqueline B. Gunder, Islip

Here's an idea for now and the future: When there are gasoline shortages, clogged roadways, railroad cancellations, bridge and tunnel closures, close all schools for one week in New York City, Suffolk County and Nassau County and free up thousands of school buses.

This would be the ultimate form of car pooling, get many vehicles off the roads and dramatically cut down on gas usage. Further, let passengers ride free. Thousands, if not millions of people, would use the buses to commute to work and for other reasons. Staging areas would be the local schools in suburbia, since those parking lots would be empty. The buses could be assigned exclusive use of the HOV lanes on the Long Island Expressway and any other roadways.

Jeffrey Myles Klein, Centereach

As a devoted volunteer for many social justice groups -- Occupy Wall Street/Occupy the Rockaways, Sandy/Long Island Food Not Bombs and others -- I would like to thank my peers for their energy, passion, commitment and know-how.

We volunteers devote our free time to setting up and transporting donation bins full of clothing, shoes, coats, etc. We also conduct outreach work with other organizations and businesses, including Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and some small businesses that allow donation bins on their premises.

I am working alongside the FEMA camp at Nassau Community College, dropping off donations for displaced seniors and children at a temporary shelter.

Other activists are organizing in the Rockaways to provide food and clothing to those hit hard.

Although "Occupiers" are drawn by outsiders and the media alike (at times) in a negative, irrational light, by mainstream America, more often than not; we are indeed your educated, empathetic, respectful neighbors, educators, friends and your family. We are the ones who are out there in the rain, snow, and heat providing much needed "supplies" to those in need in our very own backyards! We preach and live by the philosophy of solidarity, not charity.

Eileen Scanlon Christofi, Bethpage

I have three suggestions for alleviating some of any future gas line problems:

1) Require all stations to have a least one pump open for the filling of cans only.

2) Require all stations to have a least one pump open that charges a $10 surcharge per gallon. The surcharge would go to the Red Cross or other relief agencies.

3) Ban the topping-off of tanks. One must be at a quarter of a tank or less.

Ron Enners, W. Babylon

The Long Island Rail Road Commuters Council wishes to thank Newsday for publishing of branch schedules for Monday's commute. With many commuters facing lack of power and information, Newsday's publishing of this vital information was invaluable. Good work Newsday.

Mark J. Epstein, Melville

Editor's note: The writer is chairman of the Long Island Rail Road Commuters Council.

I write to express my deepest gratitude to your paper and, most important, to reporter Jo Napolitano. She walked the streets of my family's neighborhood, listening to and sympathizing with its residents, and reported my family's story in our time of need.

I am sure that it is because of her story, "Disempowered: Family of stroke patient who relies on machines struggles during LIPA outage" [News, Nov. 10] that LIPA took notice of our dire situation and restored our power.

Tonight we ate dinner as a family. I cooked on the stove, not having to use the mini propane burner in the garage, and pureed my dad's food in one shot (without worrying about tripping the generator). The heat is on, the hospital bed is working and the breathing machine is buzzing away! In short, life is good.

Thanks also to Karen Sullivan of Soundview Heating & Air Conditioning of Port Jefferson Station. She selflessly offered to donate a new boiler and service, when she read that ours was malfunctioning. I'm happy to say that we did not need her services. Still, it warms my soul to know that there are great people like her and her husband who are willing to help those in need.

I live and breathe for the great man who is my father. Sandy put him in jeopardy, but thankfully, she was defeated by your reporting and by the caring people in our community.

Jasmin Vrban, St. James

There is hope for this world, after all. The two storms have reaffirmed this. What are we talking about? How two religions can coexist without violence and bloodshed.

After Sandy hit, we lost our power, heat and hot water. We managed to survive by the generosity of others who didn't lose power. We thank all of them for their help. Two families in particular stick out.

We are Jewish; both those families are Muslim. Our religions didn't matter. We were a family in need and they stepped up and helped us. They opened up their homes and allowed us to shower, do laundry and, more important, gave us a place to stay warm for a few hours and have a hot meal.

The world would be a better place if everyone didn't care about what religion you were and just saw you as a person. These families are proof of that.

Faith Wallach and Bret P. Wallach, Hicksville

On NBC News, I saw a man who drove from Georgia to bring food and supplies to the Rockaways. He brought grits and other Southern-style foods. He said the people liked it. His ministry took up a collection and off he went to help those in need.

That is religion defined: Someone is hungry or in need and you feed them, help them. Whether the person is 10 yards, 100 miles or 10,000 miles away, if you helped, you made a difference. Being humane defines what human potential is.

Steven Taub, Melville

Sanitation workers from the Town of Oyster Bay have been working around the clock to ensure that the debris is rapidly collected and discarded. Community volunteers, including children accompanied by parents, have been supplying residents with snacks, beverages, and cleaning supplies. Neighbors are developing friendships as they offer an ear or lend a hand.

I do believe there is truth in the saying: Every cloud has its silver lining! Our lives have been enriched by the special gestures of friends and strangers.

Barbara Wasserman, Massapequa

I am one of the unfortunates who hasn't had power or heat for over a week, yet some of my neighbors are powered up and have been for a while. My bad luck, but my heart goes out to the people who have had it much worse.

I have met some of the utility crews from Michigan and Texas working in my area, and what a good group of people they are, friendly, courteous and hopeful. One even came by to inspect my yard personally to try to explain why I am not up yet.

I want to thank those crews for unsettling their own lives to come and help us, it is much appreciated.

Kevin H Fox, Jericho

I want to thank Sandy for bringing out the best in people. Neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers. For having us appreciate all that we have. For helping us realize what we have taken for granted. For giving us the opportunity to help others. For my neighbor Jerry, who lent me his extension cord, which he plugged into one of his outlets, so that I can have some power. For the Town of Oyster Bay's tremendous trash removal efforts. For God, for powering down the storm, or it could have been even worse. For all the people who called to see if we were safe. For my Aunt Neetie, who at 87 years old (but doesn't look a day over 70), insisted on cooking for us, even though she, too, had no power. For my neighbor Paul, who worked over 36 hours straight to help prevent looting. For our friends, who had no power, to allow us to welcome them into our home. And finally for my girlfriend, Eileen, who maintained our house as if we never had a storm.

Pat Gangitano, Massapequa Park

I would like to thank Newsday for being my main source of LIPA information while I went without power. I didn't get power back in my office until Nov. 9 and was still without power at home after that.

Unfortunately, Newsday couldn't impart much helpful information, since LIPA's policy changed from one day to the next.

I live in a flooded area and initially learned of the need for an electrical inspection from Newsday. I was enraged to read LIPA's chief operating officer's remark that "the homeowner has to do nothing more than to be at home to answer the door for an inspector."

In other words, people need to take time off from work and sit in a cold dark house day after day hoping that an inspector appears. What insensitivity and arrogance on the part of LIPA's Michael Hervey. He should have lost his job for this remark alone.

On a more positive note, I would like to acknowledge the phenomenal job that the Town of Oyster Bay has done with garbage removal. The sanitation trucks and bulldozers were a daily sight in my neighborhood, which was devastated by the storm.

Brenda DiDonato, Massapequa

We had no power in our West Islip home from 7 p.m. Oct. 29 during the storm, until Nov. 4 at about 8 p.m.

Earlier in the day we watched a crew from Michigan working a few blocks away.

Shortly after we left the work area our power came on. I know it's really hard to get along without electricity, but we are thankful that we still have our home and we must remember our neighbors who were not so fortunate. So many have lost so much and we are saddened. This was a major disaster of epic proportions and it will take months or perhaps years for some to recover.

We are also grateful to radio station "B103.1" for its News 12 simulcast and the heads-up for locating generators for us and our neighbors. Those broadcasts helped us keep up with the latest news as we sat by candlelight and listened to our portable AM/FM radio. Yup, we still have one of those!

William Bertini, West Islip

Amid the tragedy of this horrific storm, the saying, "There, but for the grace of God go I" keeps coming to mind. This storm should be a wake-up call to all and a realization to many.

My heart goes out to all affected and suffered losses in this storm. However, I wonder how many of people on Long Island will be humbled, thankful and more aware of others who are less fortunate and have struggled with housing and food issues all their lives.

Once this tragedy is behind them and they have re-established themselves, will they still look at a homeless man in the subway quite the same way? Will they ride past in their luxury car looking down at a person in hand-me-down clothes?

You do not know how or why someone is in that position. Will these same privileged and blessed people remember that all it takes is one act of nature, one slip in the universe, and all can be lost?

No one is immune, no one safe. This is a wake-up call to everyone. We must stop putting so much emphasis on the material and more on humanity. Not just for some but for everyone.

Regla Gibson, St. Albans

Did anyone notice the fantastic job the crews from Virginia were doing? The were extremely capable, fast and efficient. They were up and down my street assessing and repairing quickly and safely.

Considering that they were from elsewhere, I was amazed at how quickly they found their way in and around Elmont, Stewart Manor and Floral Park. I happened to pick up their radio transmissions on my scanner and was immediately impressed with how they interacted with each other. LIPA could learn an awful lot about how to run a power company from the Virginia Electric and Power Co.!

Joe Contardi, Floral Park

I saw news that some school superintendents regionally were considering petitioning the state to allow fewer than 180 days of instruction this year due to days lost to Sandy.

Rather than reduce the required days, they should reduce the amount of other time off (vacations, recesses, breaks) this school year. Should snow days also cost school days, those should be made up as well from existing time off or by extending the school year.

Brenda Giovanneillo, Malverne

I think we all know that we'd have fewer power outages if our transmission lines were buried. But that will take many years and millions of dollars. Until then, why don't the state and local governments mandate that primary power lines cannot have trees anywhere near them? Trees are great in suburban neighborhoods, but keep them away from the main lines that can cripple entire areas. I think the tree crews and LIPA guys are doing as good a job as can be expected, considering the damage. We have to start thinking a little more creatively.

Rick Hannsgen, West Islip