Nassau workers given hero’s welcome after Buffalo return

Nassau workers given hero’s welcome after Buffalo return
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman joined by workers in a welcome back ceremony. After returning from assisting in Western New York following a snowstorm that killed at least 40 people, the employees were received warmly. (Photo by Steven Keehner)

Nassau County personnel were cheered at Christopher Morley Park in Roslyn Friday after returning from assisting in Western New York following a blizzard that killed at least 40 people.

Nassau sent 18 county employees to Buffalo last Monday with pay-loaders, plows, high-axel vehicles and tractors. County Executive Bruce Blakeman said the county was able to send workers thanks to favorable weather forecasts.

“Many of you probably thought you’d finish opening up the Christmas presents or celebrating Hanukkah and were gonna relax a little bit this week — surprise,” he joked. “We had a mission and I thought that it was important that Nassau County take part in that mission.”

Vehicles from the Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Public Works arrived home just after 5 p.m. Nassau police motorcycles accompanied them as county workers, Roslyn Volunteer Fire Department personnel and other attendees cheered them on.

The storm upstate had created hazardous driving conditions and prompted many to lose power, with roads only reopening last Thursday. Many of the reported deaths occurred inside or near vehicles and inside homes where the temperature was below freezing.

County employees cleaned roads in 31 neighborhoods. This allowed roadways to reopen and utility companies to help restore power.

“Because of your efforts, people are now getting their medicine, getting their food, getting their heat, getting their electricity back on,” said Blakeman. “So thank you. God bless you. God bless this great country that has people like you who will step up to the plate.”

Blakeman got in touch with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz after Gov. Kathy Hochul told him about Buffalo’s deadly snowfall.

“We thank County Executive Blakeman for offering us assistance as we continue to deal with this unprecedented situation,” said Poloncarz.

Although Blakeman is a Republican and Poloncarz is a Democrat, Blakeman said the help goes beyond politics. He also described the effort as an important humanitarian and goodwill mission.

“God forbid we should ever need it, we built a lot of goodwill throughout the state,” he said. “As we know with Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, things can happen. Especially when it comes to acts of nature and nobody’s immune to it. So if we all chip in together and realize that we’re one community for one state, we can get through these things.”


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