Thursday, November 22, 2012

VOS Mayor: Thanksgiving Message

ed note: Mayor issued Thanksgiving Thanks in this message on VOS website:

Robert L. Cox III, Mayor
November 2012


FROM THE MAYOR’S DESK – A THANKSGIVING MESSAGE

On the eve of Thanksgiving I’m sure you will agree that this year, more than any in recent memory, we truly have much to be thankful for. Many of you have now had the chance to return to Saltaire to inspect your homes and witness the condition of the village. We have also seen the horrendous damage to Lower Manhattan, to communities like the Rockaways, Breezy Point, the Jersey Shore, and several of our neighboring communities on Fire Island that all fared much worse than we did.

There is much to be done to get the village put back together for the summer season. In some respects we still don’t have a handle on the enormity of the job ahead of us. While in all likelihood it will not be business as usual, I am confident we will rebuild, restore and recover from Hurricane Sandy’s impact . We have suffered grievous damage, but we have fared better than most. Some of this is, no doubt, attributable to good fortune.

We were lucky. But we cannot discount role of our preparedness as well. For years we have invested heavily in the management and nurturing of our beachfronts. The fact that none of our ocean front homes were lost in the face of a storm surge that exceeded predictions of a “hundred year storm” is in large measure attributable to the condition of our managed beach and dune system. Training was also an important factor. We were ready with a plan of action that led to a near flawless execution of our emergency management and evacuation programs. In advance of the storm, essential equipment was relocated to safe storage on the mainland and our village office computers and essential files were moved to a temporary facility to enable a continuity of operation.

The day after the storm our first responder team made it into the village to assess the work required to secure the village and plan for reoccupation. Village staff, though displaced from their homes, worked 18 hour days through power outages and gas shortages. This was a massive undertaking and progress was slow and difficult – but it was done safely, effectively and with selfless dedication. On the day after the storm we did not have a single functioning walk, our dunes had been flattened and there were two significant cuts through the ocean dunes. We had no power, no potable water, no water for fire fighting or sanitation, trees and branches littered the landscape, propane tanks lay strewn about the village, some leaking gas, and power lines were in shambles.To make things worse a Nor-Easter was bearing down on us.

Three weeks later we have scraped back enough sand to create a small berm running the length of the dune front, we have leveled and repaired nearly every walk, re-established a potable water system, cleared 100 or more downed trees and limbs, restored a functioning power system and inspected every village home and building to assess the capability of safely restoring power to them. Our year round residents have finally been able to return to their homes.

We owe a debt of gratitude to all those individuals who have contributed to this recovery effort. At the risk of omitting some I point to our Village Administrator, Mario, and his office staff, to our maintenance foreman, Vern Henriksen , and his team, to Larry Slack who manages our water works, to Chief Foley, to Chief Rieger and the many volunteers in the Fire Company and to Trustee Zaccaro who spent many days conducting home inspections. Finally, to the hundreds of residents who have offered their time and labors to do what ever is needed to aid this effort. In the weeks to come there will be many opportunities to participate in the work yet to be done. To all of them we offer our heartfelt thanks.

We will be communicating with you regularly over the coming weeks to pass along important information related to FEMA claims, repair and building permits, debris removal, beach front restoration, volunteer opportunities etc. In the meantime, on behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Village staff, I wish you all a safe and joyous Thanksgiving.

Mayor Robert L. Cox III

Trustee John Zaccaro Jr
Trustee Alexander K. Chefetz
Trustee Hugh A. O’Brien
Trustee Frank Wolf

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