Neighbors rally to help one another in Sandy’s aftermath


Nearly 20,000 residents were without power in Elmont and Franklin Square after Hurricane Sandy tore across Long Island, toppling trees and power lines. As of press time, the number of outages in the area had been reduced significantly, but the Circle Drive neighborhood in Elmont was not one of them.

As the hurricane’s winds began to pummel the area on Oct. 29, a tree in front of Nydia Deltoro’s home came plummeting toward her home. The only thing that stopped it from tearing through her roof was an electrical pole that once stood next to the tree but snapped as the tree was uprooted, essentially holding the tree off the house.

The tree remained on Deltoro’s lawn for four days, blocking her driveway. Electrical wires were strewn across the lawn and blocked her front door, effectively imprisoning her family — including her 100-year-old mother, Demetria Alicia — inside the house. Deltoro managed to get out of her home to inspect the damage, but she was greeted by debris. “When you were walking, they were like at your neck,” she said.

After Long Island Power Authority workers came and assessed the situation but didn’t remove the tree, Deltoro and her neighbors decided to take matters into their own hands. Jose Mejias, who lives three homes away, grabbed a handsaw and began working on the tree. Deltoro’s son, Luis Febo, who had driven up from Delaware with his wife and children to help out, went out and bought a generator and a chainsaw to make the work a little easier.

After they worked all morning on Nov. 1, the tree was finally in pieces and Deltoro’s driveway and lawn were clear. But temperatures were quickly dropping, and the neighborhood remained without power and heat.

“I’m concerned for my mom,” Deltoro said on Monday, when her home still had no electricity. “It’s too cold to walk around the house.”

At night, the temperature inside was dropping into the low 50s, Deltoro said. Her mother, who is known throughout the neighborhood and likes to stand at the front window, looking out, seldom left the warm refuge of her bed and comforter.

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