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And the Fire Department wasn’t alone. Citizen volunteers helped them out, cooking and cleaning and just keeping things in order. People like Kathy Casella, Liane Gorton and Lori Lettini.
“They were cooking for all the standby crews,” Ruzicka said. “They would have breakfast, lunch and dinner for them. They would clean up. They were like your mom at home.”
“Through tears, sweat, exhaustion and fear, these men and women put their community before themselves,” D’Esposito said. “The assessment of destruction of their own homes waited so that we could protect this community. I personally have never been so proud of them. I have never been so proud to be a chief in this department.”
Sandy flooded many school buildings. School 8 in Oceanside was badly damaged, and classes won’t resume there until next month. In Island Park, the Francis X. Hegarty Elementary School was so badly damaged that it most likely will not reopen this school year.
But Dr. Herb Brown, Oceanside’s superintendent, worked with other officials to hold School 8’s classes at School 6 — relocating an entire 450-student school.
Classes also resumed in Island Park, with students attending classes together at the Lincoln Orens Middle School. Superintendent Dr. Rosmarie Bovino managed to restart district operations against all odds. There was no heat or power when LOMS initially reopened, but a temporary boiler and generators were brought in to power the building. Attendance has been so high that every available room has been turned into a classroom.
The teachers in both districts went above and beyond as well. “We had teachers and principals going door to door, checking on the kids,” said Brown. “We had teachers and principals and other staff members going street to street with sandwiches they made at the high school, offering people food … We had people cooking at the high school, and we invited people in who wanted a hot lunch or to charge their cell phones.
“We had a lot of people doing a lot of wonderful things,” Brown added.