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Fire Department Are Mineola Patch’s 2012 People of the Year

First responders earn Patch’s People of the Year award for efforts during Hurricane Sandy.

The Mineola Patch took many nominations under consideration but for the 2012 Person of the Year it seemed more appropriate to award a People of the Year Award for the selfless and heroic nature of our local first responders during Hurricane Sandy.

We don’t need to look so far though to find our own hometown heroes, usually people who don’t receive nearly the same credit, who stand equally in the face of adversity.

The Mineola Fire Department stood against Hurricane Sandy while many of us stayed inside within the safety of our homes. They left their families during this time of crisis last year and risked their lives to ensure our well-being was protected.

“I’m sure all the residents out there would echo the sentiments, we can’t thank you guys enough. A volunteer organization, you’ve left your homes, you’ve left your families to protect ours and the businesses of the village,” Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss said after the storm. “We can’t thank you guys enough.”

Within a two week period starting at the morning of the storm on October 29 2012 they answered 129 calls. This was over a fifth of all the calls they answered in the entirety of 2011.

After receiving and taking multiple nominations under consideration Mineola Patch would like to award the Mineola Fire Department for our 2012 People of the Year award. It is important not to limit it to just the Mineola Fire Department but all the first responders in the area. One major part Mineola Fire Department played during the recovery after the storm was to house the out-of-state utility workers.

The 35 workers from Alabama should also be recognized. Normally they sleep in their trucks while working long days constantly repairing our infrastructure to return power.

“They were sleeping in their trucks,” Mineola Chief Jeffrey Clark said. “We found out about it, opened up the department hall, got the cots out, blankets, pillows and the men had a place to sleep, warm, they had showers.”

Up to 60 members of the fire department were stationed at the two fire houses from Sunday night till Wednesday responding to multiple calls. One working house fire, “numerous” wires down, wires burning, poles burning, trees down and trees on fire were some of the various calls these neighbors, friends, Dads and Moms responded to during the storm.

They take their jobs seriously and appropriately so. The nature of dealing with downed wires and fires stemming from damaged electrical equipment is extremely dangerous. It can be forgotten at times though that the members aren’t even working, they’re volunteering. That’s why it is of added importance to recognize these members for People of the Year. They never were paid for it and didn’t just service the community through emergency response.

As a testament to the type of department Mineola has established, they handed out over . The selfless attitude was also shown in their mutual aid response to some south shore departments as well. Mineola sent multiple engines down to Merrick and Freeport to aid their own responses to the storm.

No where in anyone’s emergency management plans was the hurricane response page in the same chapter as a snow storm. But the department didn’t falter in the face of the second storm either. The Nor’easter turned snowstorm generated 12 calls over a five-hour period, particularly a high-tension power wire that caused a car fire. Chief Clark noted it “was interesting to deal with.” One can only imagine some of the issues and predicaments that situation alone called for. With the inclusion of so many more calls, the many hardships overcome by the first responders was no small feat.

For many days after the storm though many aspects of the village were working tirelessly. The department of public works began clearing debris and garbage pick-up, notably well before Governor Cuomo’s executive order for villages to do so. Many elements of village hall also took calls and aided in coordinating what needed to be done.

In the face of adversity many aspects of Mineola and particularly Mineola Fire Department stood up to the worst Mother Nature has tested us with in recent history.

“I want to acknowledge the Herculean effort given by all involved. Our DPW crews, clerical staff, ambulance technicians, auxiliary police officers and especially our firefighters,” Strauss said.

All the first responders can be thanked for a tremendous effort. So remember who those neighbors are and the sacrifice they gave. The hours that were put in by our firemen, ambulance workers and public works people were countless and something we enormously relied on. Their outstanding effort, particularly that of the Mineola Fire Department are who deserves our People of the Year award.

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