In addition to cleanup and collection, Sani2 also served as a hub for emergency services during the storm. Brown pointed out that it provided gasoline afterward to fire and police units from Baldwin, Roosevelt, Freeport, Island Park and Atlantic Beach, as well as Federal Emergency Management Agency vehicles and emergency medical teams from out of state.
Department workers also helped out on rescues. “We were able to assist the Fire Department,” said Brown, who is a district fire supervisor in addition to his duties with Sani2. “Our trucks have the exhaust out the top, where the fire trucks’ exhaust is at the bottom. That meant we could drive through water deeper than some of the fire trucks. We drove the firemen into areas they couldn’t reach.”
Taking its toll
While Sani2 has handled its increased workload efficiently, the task has not been easy. According to Brown and Schwenker, the injury rate among its 75 employees has doubled since the storm hit, and he suggested that workers had subjected themselves to heath risks, such as touching contaminated materials, that hadn’t surfaced yet.
In addition to being more dangerous, Brown said, the job of trash collection has also become more difficult. With a great deal more trash pouring in than usual, secondary collection sites have been set up across Long Island, in locations like Nickerson Beach and Baldwin Park. Unfortunately, these sites are either full or have enormous wait times for drop-offs.
“The primary sites just can’t handle this volume,” Brown said. “Our drivers are waiting six hours to drop off.”
Baldwin taking notice
Sani2’s extra effort has not been ignored. It’s not uncommon to see five or six houses in a row sporting yard signs in support of the district, and opposition materials are scarce. Letters and phone calls have flooded in to the Herald, and Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilman Tony Santino have expressed their support.