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Volume XXVII, Number 5742
Tuesday, Nov 20, 2012

Extraordinary Parkies Working In The Wake Of Sandy

We continue to thank individuals for their extraordinary service during Hurricane Sandy.

Chris “Doc” Weckerle: Climber and Pruner, Queens

Doc has been working over 14 hours each day to coordinate 52 contractor crews plus all the mutual aid crews working in Queens. He is the point person for organizing the clean-up work in Queens, matching work crews with inspectors/overseers, coordinating within and between the crews, dispatching the crews throughout the borough, dealing with communications between the crews, and handling all the miscellaneous other issues experienced by the workers – nearly all of whom are from faraway places and not familiar with working in or travelling around New York City.

Joseph DiMartino and Dennis Annunziato: Deputy Directors, Central Communications; and Minerva Del Real: Central Communications Sergeant, PEP
Joe, Dennis, and Minnie worked five consecutive shifts in the lead-up to and during the storm with minimal rest and they still had to be ordered home. Joe and Dennis went out in the hurricane to work on the generator when lower Manhattan lost power and the unit failed to automatically start. That was after they rigged extension cords all over Central to the Urban Park Service (UPS) to get just basic phone service back up. Then they took all non-essential electric offline to extend the life of the UPS. They were so resourceful and self-sufficient and just incredible in their efforts to keep us operational. They were holding each other down, literally, with a hurricane knocking tree limbs down all around them in the middle of Sara D. Roosevelt Park, in complete darkness. Their efforts to keep the lines of communication open were amazing.
Before, during, and after the storm, Sgt. Del Real worked at Central for 36 straight hours. She ran office operations, gave staff breaks, and transported personnel who could not otherwise make it to work. On her days off, Sgt. Del Real went to the Rockaways to deliver food, clothes, and other items to help bring some comfort and relief to residents displaced from the hurricane.

Braulio Thillet: IT, Shawn Maloney: Olmsted Operations, and Christian Borghi: Olmsted Operations
Braulio, Shawn, and Christian reported to the Olmsted Center in the lead-up to the storm and were onsite for 48 continuous hours. Olmsted Center houses the Parks Department’s Central Forestry and Queens Forestry operations, and as such, uninterrupted service at that site was deemed vital to Agency Operations. On Monday afternoon, Flushing Meadows Corona Park began to flood. While the rest of the building staff was evacuated to an area that was not affected by rising waters, these three employees stayed behind in the building to keep the server room (and thus the data lines) up for as long as possible. By 10 p.m., water rose knee deep, yet they remained until two electrical fires broke out. After putting out the fires, they finally allowed themselves to be removed to a safer location, and communications were finally severed to the Olmsted Center. Going beyond their already exhaustive efforts, the employees returned at 5 a.m. the next morning to restore power to the server room, despite the continued presence of flood water within the building, which constituted a grave personal risk. They were successful in their attempts, and because of this, Forestry was able to resume normal operations just as the storm broke.

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“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

Maya Angelou
(1928 - )

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