Report by: JO'H
A crowd of five to six hundred people met Saturday afternoon, November 10 for updates on Fire Island recovery progress post-Sandy. Sponsored by the private Ocean Beach Association but open to anyone interested in Fire Island, the meeting was held at the All Souls Congregational Church on Lexington Avenue in New York City. Speakers included OB Mayor James Mallot, other OB officials, and representatives of the OB Association, Fire Island Association, and Town of Islip.
Presentations were made regarding cleanup efforts to date, primarily in Ocean Beach, and plans for for anticipated "controlled reoccupation," which is being overseen by Village, Suffolk County and Town of Islip Officials. Speakers repeatedly emphasized that the biggest fear now is fire.
A second phase of the presentation was talk of launching a political effort to get the support to "Save the Beach." "There are no dunes on Fire Island," Mallot said, "None." He called for a full replenishment of sand for the entire length of Fire Island: "There are two million cubic yards of sand in Fire Island Inlet." He called for a political mobilization of all of Fire Island, and all of Long Island to restore what a speaker described as as the "levee of the South Shore of Long Island."
A slide show showing damage to various houses and locations in Ocean Beach was on display prior to the meeting. Mayor Jimmy Mallot was introduced: "On 9-11 Mayor Giuliani was called Americas Mayor... Now Jimmy is "Fire Island's Mayor."
Mayor Mallot spent the first twenty minutes describing and praising the efforts of the OB Police, Fire Department and other emergency workers during the storm. "These guys worked their asses off." There was a fire the first day and the FD avoided "another Breezy Point." He said that the Fire Department was "working like a Swiss watch." Pointing to commissioner of Public Works Kevin Schilling: "he's a hero." Fire Department. Village employees. Village Police." (round of applause.)
Regarding ongoing efforts he noted that "we can not do anything without permission from Islip" and Suffolk County. The biggest concern has at all times been fire. The removal of destroyed items from houses will be a "private effort." The mayor cited the "massive" amount of metal:" stoves, refrigerators, television sets, heaters, washers, dryers that will have to be removed privately.
Year -round residents were permitted on the island several hours on Saturday. OB feels that it went well, but they must report back to Islip and to the County. They anticipate that homeowners bearing a copy of their tax bill will be permitted reentry for several hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 15-17, subject to County and Town approval. There will be no overnight stays permitted. This is "controlled reoccupation." (Ed note: The Mayor's presentation makes it clear that the Fire Island reoccupation policy is a mandate of County, Town and Village governments and is supported and enforced by all three. JO'H) Fire Island Ferries will be running "contractors' boats and an "insurance boat." We have a Village office on the mainland "up and running." Have been trying "so hard to get information out to you." (applause).
The mayor handed the microphone over to the chiefs of police, Fire, village clerk and an Islip Town official.
At the end of the presentation, there were a series of questions by residents.
REMARKS ON BEACH RENEWAL;
Back to Mallot: "Repair the beach....There are no dunes on Fire Island. None. " He cited the need to "petition everyone on Long Island... the natural levee for Long Island is Fire Island." he said that they needed "to get the whole island on this project... contact everybody and anybody... get them off their asses. .. (write) letters and phone calls."
Other speakers urged: Contact local politicians. An initiative. "Barrage these guys" so we can "get the sand that we need." (applause.)
A Fire Island Association speaker: "The whole Island is working together. There were 1.8 million cubic yards of sand in Fire Island Inlet before this storm." ... "Mario Posillico of Saltaire is coordinating this for the Fire Island Association."
One Constituent Comment during the Q&A session:
"There will be those who say to let Fire Island go, it is a natural process- let it go away.. this is global warming -- I say that is BULLSHIT. Fire Island moved a little,but we gotta move it back, it will be fine."
Editorial observation: after the meeting there were eleven separate petitions passed around, each addressed to a different public official. If the Island organizes a coalition to bring pressure to get funds for major restoration, "the length of Fire Island" as Mayor Mallot proposes, such an effort would bring to mind the Robert Moses War of 1962. See, e.g. : http://www.fireislandassociation.org/images/docs/thebattleoffireisland_michaelfry_1963-1.pdf ---
|OB Mayor James Mallot arrives at NYC Saturday Afternoon after supervising a several-hour "controlled reoccupation" for year round residents earlier in the day.|
|A crowd of up to 600 people attended, showed no hostility despite frustration, and gave at number of rounds of applause during the presentation.|
|Presentations were made by Mayor Mallot; by OBFD, PD, Clerk, OB Association, Fire Island Association, Town of Islip. Some insurance representatives were in attendance.|
|A sign-up sheet was made available for those who have been unable to contact and electrician or plumber. At least eleven different petitions were prepared to send to various public officials to urge help in Fire Island Recovery efforts.|
Bob Jaffe of Fair Harbor supplements us below: (Thanx Bob, you are a good reporter. -JO'H
Bob Jaffe from FH sez:
I just returned home from a well attended Ocean Beach Meeting held in Manhattan at 3 PM today. I am reporting the highlights (as I understand them). Keep in mind this was an OB meeting so I can’t say if these issues pertain to FH. There was implication that they were speaking for Kismet through OBP.
RETURN TO BEACH FOR ALL: Their goal is to allow access to all homeowners this Thurs., Fri. and Sat. (Nov. 15-17). Bring your tax bill to prove homeownership. Two people per house will be allowed. Two boats in…two boats each day. No one is permitted to stay overnight. You can go multiple days if desired. They made it clear, this is a hope and is not etched in stone.
ELECTRICITY: LIPA is prepared to energize the lines to the substations on Fire Island (Kismet to OBP). They may do this tomorrow when there are sufficient first responders at the respective substations. When LIPA energizes these lines, no houses will have power yet (they are just powering the substations to make sure they are all safe). Power to houses will be provided only after 100% of the houses are inspected. Houses that have electrical issues will have their meters pulled to facilitate turning on power for undamaged homes. Licensed electricians will do these inspections. No mention of when power to homes might occur.
ACCESS TO YOUR HOME FOR INSPECTORS : It is prudent that we provide access to those who are inspecting our homes. If the licensed electrician inspecting your home does not have access, it is possible that they will pull your electric meter.
FEMA: My understanding (after the meeting) is that our ‘normal’ FEMA insurance covers our secondary residence. It is the additional FEMA storm related monies (beyond our ‘normal’ FEMA coverage) that apply only to primary residences. ‘Prime Residence’ defined by FEMA as your residence for 80% of the calendar year. Take this all with a grain of salt.
DISHWASHERS/WASHING MACHINES: Not addressed at the meeting. Until power is restored to your home there is no way to winterize your dishwasher/washing machine. Make sure your plumber who shuts off your water ultimately winterizes these items when power is restored.
The meeting was well received. The audience VERY appreciative of the efforts of the various entities handling the clean-up. Many FH residents attended.
November 11, 2012 9:03 AM
JOH: Hey Bob:
Were you surprised that there was no anger at this meeting? It was well received. The only hostile comment was by one questioner who was hostile toward people who might argue that Fire Island should not be replenished. .
I would say that the one thing that was said that was confusing was about FEMA coverage. I think you just clarified it. When Gov. Christie was talking about FEMA not paying for secondary residences, I assume he was not talking about flood insurance policies. I think he was just talking about extra goodies after your primary coverages are exhausted. No FEMA extra stuff for summer homes. (We guess.) --JO'H