Kevin Carrero, a lifelong resident of Meadowmere Park and its fire chief, took on a large role in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the biggest emergency in the community’s history, opening the firehouse to his neighbors and helping to rebuild this small enclave of homes. The Herald is proud to name Carrero its 2012 Person of the Year.
Hurricane Sandy’s impact was huge, but Carrero, 31, a contractor who became a member of the Meadowmere Fire Department eight years ago, was as prepared as anyone can be for a deluge that produced a storm surge of nearly eight feet.
“We were planning on a small scale definitely for about a week — we thought we could handle ourselves,” Carrero said. “After the storm, we realized we were in trouble. I rushed back to our commissioners and they said, ‘Do what you have to do.’ We got food for three weeks. Donations helped. We bought stuff at BJ’s and Costco and set up showers [in the firehouse].”
Though Carrero says “we,” Roger Vargas, a Meadowmere Park fire commissioner, said it was Carrero’s leadership that set the stage for the depleted Fire Department to help residents. “The department, under Kevin’s basic leadership, made calls to get all the aid we could,” said Vargas, who is Carrero’s brother-in-law and has known him for 24 years. More than 20 of the department’s nearly 30 firefighters temporarily relocated due to the storm. Several of them have returned, Carrero said.
Carrero called Nassau County’s Office of Emergency Management and procured a generator after the department’s generator died. He also got space heaters from OEM to heat the firehouse’s ground floor, where a few firefighters slept as 10 residents slept upstairs. Carrero and other firefighters — and some neighbors — took turns cooking meals for as many as 70 residents each day for several weeks after the storm. “I’m an outgoing person,” Carrero said, “and I learned a lot from former chiefs.”