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Sandy group talking rebuilding
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Bill Kelly/Herald

This summer, Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, a Bellmorite and Nassau County’s health commissioner, and Joe Baker, a lifelong Merokean and the president of the South Merrick Community Civic Association, were named the committee’s co-chairs. Eisenstein and Baker both said that Laura Munafo, the Nassau County regional lead for New York Rising, contacted them to let them know that they had the posts. Before she was appointed to lead roles in overseeing the government’s response to Hurricane Sandy, first with the county’s Office of Emergency Management and then with New York Rising, Munafo was Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s executive assistant.

Munafo did not respond to multiple requests for an interview for this article.

In July, Eisenstein and Baker attended a conference for the chairs of each community committee in Albany, where they heard speeches, received informational pamphlets and attended a luncheon with Cuomo.

They made recommendations to Munafo for the 10 other seats on the Bellmore-Merrick committee. As of its first meeting, on Sept. 17 at AcQua Restaurant in south Merrick, the committee comprised Joanne Bo, who is active with Operation SPLASH; Eileen Casazza, vice president of the Bellmore Preservation Group; John Fabian, a former Merrick Fire Department chief; Ali Frankel, president of the South Bellmore Civic Association; Julie Marchesella, president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce; Hugh Mason; Natalie Molloy; Randy Shotland, president of the Merrick Chamber of Commerce; Paul Waterman, another former Merrick Fire Department chief; Neil Yeoman, a retired engineer, and Eisenstein and Baker. Eisenstein said on Sept. 20 that he was unsure whether the membership might change.

Also attending the meeting were Munafo; five consultants from Arup, a multinational consulting firm based in London; and about 20 members of the public.

One of the consultants, Trent Lethco, gave a PowerPoint presentation and solicited input from the other attendees. Ideas ranged from the means of providing electricity if the grid were to go down, to elevating roads, to mitigating storm surge from south Bellmore and Merrick’s canals and sewers.


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Our community suffered the most the days after the storm because of no heat and no electricity. I hope this committee uses the funds to help us endure less suffering after the next storm. There is absolutely no way to prevent us from getting hit with the next storm but we can prepare. Helping us get back to our homes the day after the storm. Helping to get to the people that stayed and weathered the storm. Allowing electric to be turned back on within a day or two. What we endured after the storm was a crying shame. Days for the gas meters to be checked. No electric for days because the transformers in the front of the homes, on the telephone polls, need a simple switch turned on with a long yellow rubber pole. Days of unnecessary suffering. The best was when homeowners were ripped off and had to pay hundreds of dollars because they were told they had to have a certificate, from the fire department, in order to get electric to their home. It was a crazy disturbing night mare and it escalated out of control when the Town building department employees walked the street trying to enter homes to get people to get permits for the repair work that needed to be done. Crying shame. Hope we use the funds to be prepared and organized in the event of the next storm. A step by step outline telling each company/department what needs to be done in order for the public not to suffer more than 2 days following the next storm. Wishing this newly created committee the very best and thank you for your service. Nancy Coletto

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