Village Workers and Volunteers Tackle Recent Blizzard and House Fire
When faced with fire, ice or anything in-between, Floral Park Village workers, volunteers and residents join forces and rise to the occasion. That was the consensus at the board of trustees meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3, which was held on the heels of the blizzard that hit our region late last month.
“One of the things that makes us proud of our village is our employees,” said Mayor Kevin J. Greene. Indeed, the Floral Park Department of Public Works worked tirelessly before, during and after the storm, heralded Deputy Mayor Thomas J. Tweedy. “The DPW mobilized on Sunday [Dec. 26] morning and prepared equipment. … The trucks were filled with salt and men were called in for a long shift,” he said.
Although some of the snow-removal equipment experienced breakdowns during the storm, Tweedy said, village mechanics worked to get the equipment up and running again. “The efforts of our DPW crews continued unabated Monday [Dec. 27], Tuesday [Dec. 28] and Wednesday [Dec. 29],” he added.
The paramount concern among village officials was to ensure the safety of residents. The DPW worked relentlessly to make sure that the village fire and police departments were kept clear of snow at all times so that emergency vehicles were able to respond to calls immediately. “We maintained an open lane for emergency vehicles throughout the entire storm,” Tweedy said. “Our initial preparation paid significant dividends,” he added.
Trustees Mary-Grace Tomecki, Dominick A. Longobardi and James E. Rhatigan echoed the praise for the response of the Floral Park DPW and Police and Fire Departments. Longobardi also gave a nod toward residents who shoveled out their driveways in an effort to keep their cars off the street and who swiftly shoveled their sidewalks and those of their neighbors in cases where aid was needed.
Residents present at the meeting on Jan. 3 were mostly pleased with the village’s response to the storm, but a few areas of concern were raised. Floral Park Chamber of Commerce President Salvatore Bonagura applauded “the marvelous job on Tulip and South Tyson,” but questioned the snow and ice near the Floral Park Public Library, the post office and Jericho Turnpike east of Plainfield Avenue.
Deputy Mayor Tweedy assured Bonagura that the village is making every effort it can to clear all roads within the village. Some roads, however, are governed by New York State and Nassau County. Jericho Turnpike is a state road, and village officials are working with the state to clear the snow and ice. Tulip and Covert avenues are under Nassau County’s jurisdiction. Tweedy said that Floral Park had a “handshake deal” with Nassau County, wherein the county would plow Covert Avenue while Floral Park’s DPW plowed Tulip Avenue. To be sure, all parties are working in harmony to get the job done.
Bonagura also questioned whether tickets will be issued to residents who have displaced the bulk of the snow from their property into the street. The board urged residents to shovel and blow snow from their sidewalks onto their lawns and not into the road. Tweedy said the board will review both the village’s and the residents’ response to the storm and “improve where we can.” Residents will not be issued summonses, however, village officials will speak to residents directly “about what they should be doing.”
Part of residents’ responsibility is to clear the area immediately around fire hydrants, if they have a hydrant on their property. After a devastating house fire early Christmas morning, residents should be more aware than ever of the necessity of easy access to hydrants.
“Precious minutes can be lost by responding firefighters searching for and digging out a hydrant,” said Trustee James E. Rhatigan, who was at the scene of the Dec. 25 house fire near Carnation and Violet avenues. According to Rhatigan, the fire alarm went out just before 2 a.m., and “although there was an immediate response, the fire had already gotten a firm hold of the structure.” The fire originated in the basement and was fed by a compromised gas line, which caused it to quickly spread to the upper floors.
Floral Park volunteer firefighters worked throughout the night to prevent the flames from spreading to the adjacent residences. “It was only after more than three hours of fighting that the fire was declared under control and mop-up operations began,” Rhatigan said. Thankfully, the family was safely evacuated, however the home and all of its contents were destroyed.
As Floral Park has done many times in the past, the community is pulling together to help one of its own. Donations in the form of gift cards and financial contributions are being collected for the victims of the house fire, the Hallock family—two parents and two teenagers. As stated on the village website, donations can be dropped off to Loraine Fletcher at 17 Crocus Ave., Kit Smith at 60 Terrace Ave. (side door entrance) and Susan Rostkowski at 18 Spooner St.