East Meadow Fire Chief Walter Griffin — who was the first assistant chief last year, when the storm hit — recalled the department’s extensive preparation leading up to the storm. Still, he said, no one could have been fully prepared for what happened. “We expected very high winds and rain,” Griffin said, “but we didn’t expect the … aftermath.”
Volunteers spent several days responding to downed power lines and aiding other departments in harder-hit areas. Afterwards, the department hosted multiple clothing and supply drives at its headquarters on East Meadow Avenue.
Other East Meadow residents, like Susan Weiss, recalled leaving their dark, unheated homes and staying with friends and family. Weiss said she remained with her family in her home for 10 days before they had finally had enough, and moved into her sister’s home in Jericho, which was operating on a generator. “That’s one nightmare I don’t want to relive,” she said.
After being forced to throw out a large supply of frozen food, Weiss said, she refrained from overstocking her freezer with frozen food this summer. “If there’s nothing in the freezer, then there’s less to throw out when we have the next hurricane,” she said.
The storm was an especially trying time for Sharon Oderwald, of Randall Avenue, whose 5-year-old daughter, Violet, was undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia at the time. Her family, which includes her husband, Thomas, and their 2-year-old daughter, Josephine, stayed with friends and family members while their home lacked power. “There were awful stories of households with children who had special needs, and the elderly, with medical concerns, not being made a priority.” Oderwald said. “The anniversary of Sandy really should be taken as an opportunity to reflect on what went wrong, what steps have been taken to remedy the problems and what more can be done to be as efficient as possible when the community is suffering.”