A community meeting last Friday night at Baldwin Middle School united two groups that can’t always find each other: people with questions and people with answers.
Sponsored by Assemblyman Brian Curran, the meeting had a rolling roster of about 200 attendees. Some were homeowners seeking to speak to that rarest of entities during a disaster — an actual human being — and other were cops, Federal Emergency Management Agency reps, lawyers, insurance adjusters, sanitation commissioners and legislators. Conspicuously absent were two groups many in the room would have liked to address: the Long Island Power Authority and National Grid.
Curran, whose relief work in the wake of Hurricane Sandy has included everything from setting up FEMA distribution centers at the Meadow School to coordinating helicopter supply runs to storm-stricken Baldwin Harbor, opened the meeting by extending his sympathies.
“There’s no way I can understand what you’ve been through, but I can try to help,” he said, going on to explain that the event’s purpose was to distribute information. “We want you to know what help is currently available — what these agencies can do for you.”
The officials Curran brought to the stage included County Legislator Joseph Scannell, Sanitary District Two Commissioner Jerry Brown, independent catastrophe claims specialist Scott Mager, representatives of the Nassau County Police Department and several experts from FEMA.
“Sani2 has removed 5,000 tons of garbage by hand,” said Brown, whose department was roundly applauded for its efforts to remove storm-soaked debris. “We will keep working until we achieve total recovery.”
Scannell, a 50-year resident of Baldwin, characterized the storm as “the worst time in our lives,” adding, “It’s been absolute devastation.”
After introductory remarks by each person on stage, a line of residents that reached midway up the BMS auditorium aisle approached a lectern to ask questions.