By Steven Vegliante
Each year at Thanksgiving we gather with family and friends and express our gratitude for the bounty which we enjoy, the loved ones in our lives, and the benevolence shown us throughout the year.
As I gather this year with those closest to me, I am thankful to be a member of the Fallsburg community, a group that consistently meets adversity head on and steps up to the challenge, assisting others before themselves.
This proud tradition continued again during and after Hurricane Sandy.
While I am sure that I will forget someone, and in that case, please forgive me, there are several individuals, families and organizations that must be publicly acknowledged for their selfless acts and their assistance in response to the storm.
First, the members of the emergency services and fire departments. Always our first line of response, our fire and ambulance personnel answered their calls admirably and professionally. Staying in contact with the Emergency Control Center and Town offices, it was a great comfort to me and to our Town to know that you were there. Thank You.
A special thank you to the Fallsburg Fire Department, whose members coordinated dry ice and water distribution and for opening their firehouse and feeding those without power for days. You are all the Town of Fallsburg’s Bravest. Thank You.
Next I would like to thank Town employees. From Highway, to the Police Department, to Public Works and Parks, our employees worked together to make sure that services were not compromised.
Roads were cleared within thirty (30) hours, police patrolled every mile of road, visiting those without power and delivering dry ice, water and meals where needed. Our water and sewer departments shuttled generators and resources ensuring no interruption in water or sewer services. Parks workers were available to support other departments, while clearing and repairing damage in the parks.
Bottom Line: A well oiled machine responded to this storm. This results from communication and cooperation every day, not only when storm clouds gather, but when the sun is shining.
Hat’s off to the rank and file as well as management of each of these departments. Thank You.
Many businesses and individuals within the Town of Fallsburg helped out their neighbors, but a couple went above and beyond.
Firstly, I would like to acknowledge and thank Phil and Donna Vallone and the Rolling V family. They provided shuttles to the County shelter, including regular runs to and from each firehouse. They were available if needed for emergency evacuations offering busses and employees without being asked. Thank You.
The Bresky / Koplik families, owners of Murray’s Chicken in South Fallsburg again provided much needed help to the Town, in the form of dry ice and food. When supplies of dry ice were not forthcoming following the storm, Murray Bresky and Dean Koplik cut back on production lines at their plant to provide dry ice to the Town, making sure that Fallsburg families would not lose their food in their refrigerators and freezers going into the holidays. When hours turned into days, Murray provided hot dogs and burgers to the Fallsburg Fire Department to feed those who hadn’t had a hot meal in days. Thank You.
As we began to hear the news of Hurricane Sandy, I met with each department head and they along with their staff made sure that their departments were prepared. Once the winds died down, we were able to give thanks that other than downed trees and power/phone and cable interruptions, we suffered little.
Downstate, fellow Americans were true victims, losing their homes, possessions and tragically, loved ones. The Thursday following the storm, I toured the southern edge of New York City, including Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. It gave me a perspective that was lacking on Tuesday and Wednesday.
From that day forward, I ceased complaining about not having TV or Power and chose instead to focus on how I can help prepare Fallsburg going forward for these types of disasters.
In the coming months we will be exploring options for a town-wide shelter site with generator power. I have ordered the stockpiling of bottled water and MREs (meals ready to eat). We will, along with State and County representatives, look at communication alternatives to get news to residents.
Simply, we will continue to refine our preparedness and get better at responding to and communicating with our residents.
For this week though, I will continue to give thanks…Thanks for the support of friends, thanks for the love of my family and thanks for the kindness and grace shown by my community to others.