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Standing Up to Sandy!

No crystal ball could have foretold the devastating impact of Superstorm Sandy. It put our emergency preparation to the test and turned out to be the largest Atlantic hurricane ever measured at some 1,100 miles in diameter. Damage estimates are over $50 billion and public suffering in our area was unprecedented.

Monday, October 22, 2012
“The week began much the same as usual with no major issues, but we recognized the potential for a big storm. Preparations for the storm started long before Sandy approached the area,” District Manager, Bruce Smith stated. Parts of our district are very low and close to the water, so even rainstorms or unusual moon tides can wreak havoc with residents and our emergency responders. That’s why the HFD regularly monitors potential tropical storms as well as all weather and tide conditions.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The HFD began reviewing our emergency preparedness plan, making sure everything on our checklist was in perfect running order:

  • Portable pumps, chain saws and generators
  • Fuel supplies
  • Food and water supplies

Our communications system was double- and triple-checked. Further, our Evacuation Plans and Procedures were reviewed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 – Monday, October 29, 2012
As the storm’s projected track became more certain, we met with officials from the Town of Huntington, Suffolk County and New York State to review emergency response plans.

Monday, October 29, 2012 – 09:15 a.m.
A manpower standby at Leverich Place Fire Station headquarters was instituted.

Monday, October 29, 2012 – 11:00 a.m.
Weather-related calls for help were pouring in and increased rapidly as the storm raged. The HFD fielded over 100 calls for assistance, including 80 calls in just a 3-hour period. Superstorm Sandy’s impact was surpassing every prediction. The calls ranged from simple wires down to trees crashing into homes with residents trapped inside. There were numerous electrical fires and high-pressure gas leaks. “Getting to the emergencies was a nightmare,” Chief Ken Cochrane stated. “Our access was impeded by downed trees and wires, debris and in some places, water, but we persevered.”

Monday, October 29, 2012 – 11:00 p.m.
With floodwaters rising rapidly, the prevailing northerly winds changed direction and started blowing from the south. This saved us from more devastation because the water being pushed down the Sound and into Huntington Harbor began to subside just when the moored boats started to break free.

Lloyd Harbor and Lloyd Neck
The Lloyd Harbor causeway is low and floods under normal circumstances, let alone a superstorm like Sandy. The HFD stationed a crew and apparatus on the Neck. They too were cut off from the mainland by high waters and responded to numerous calls for help.

In the days that followed Superstorm Sandy, standby crews remained on duty handling emergencies of all types:

  • Running generators created a number of Carbon Monoxide (CO) emergencies
  • Road clearing of downed trees and debris removals
  • Downed wires
  • Gas leaks
  • House fires
  • Vehicle fires
  • General miscellaneous assists

The Leverich Place firehouse was put to great use as a storage depot for medicines, supplies and dialysis machines. It also served as temporary shelter for displaced residents. Dozens of out-of-town utility workers called it home for weeks.