The fire chief was at the grill, cooking a larger-than-usual portion of scrambled eggs; children who should have been in school weren’t; and there was enough food collected in an office to stock a supermarket’s shelves.
This wasn’t the typical daily scene at the Meadowmere Park firehouse, but then, this wasn’t a typical Friday. It was 11 days after Hurricane Sandy, in a community, tucked between Lawrence and the Queens border, that the superstorm hit hard.
The firehouse, at the intersection of East and Meyer avenues, has served as the community’s shelter since Sandy struck. Fire Chief Kevin Carrero, 31, said that he and his fellow firefighters had been cooking breakfast, serving lunch and making dinner for up to 70 people each day since the storm. “I prepared so heavy for [Tropical Storm] Irene, but that wasn’t as bad,” Carrero said, leaning against a desk in his office. “But the benefit for us is that I pre-planned.”
Though Carrero and his department expected a heavy storm, and stockpiled food and medical supplies in the event that they would end up sheltering residents, they never anticipated a tempest that ravaged houses with six- to eight-foot swells and forced many residents to at least temporarily relocate — including more than 20 of the department’s nearly 30 firefighters.
“No one expected this much water,” said Carrero, who said that his house is on some of the highest ground in the community, yet six feet of water surged into it.
Members of the Fire Department took it upon themselves to turn the firehouse into a safe, warm haven for residents who needed a hot meal, a friendly face and a place to contemplate “what next.” After the department’s generator “blew up,” as Carrero described it, on the night of Nov. 5, he called the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management and obtained another one, along with space heaters.