Sandy’s wake

As we say good-bye to Election 2012 madness and thank whichever higher power we subscribe to that there will be no more political ads on the air, we can’t forget that Greenwich still has a long way to go in its recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

It’s been a week and a half since Sandy came ashore and left thousands without power, closed schools for more than a week and destroyed homes. And the truth is that Greenwich got off lightly. All one has to do is look at what happened to New Jersey or Staten Island to realize that it all could have been much, much worse. That’s how destructive this storm was. And as the recovery continues here, there are a number of things we should not forget so easily.

The first is that Greenwich’s public safety personnel performed above and beyond. The lead-up to and aftermath of the storm has been a tribute to how well these vital departments function under the leadership of police Chief James Heavey, fire Chief Peter Siecienski and Greenwich Emergency Medical Services Director Charlee Tufts. All of them gave exemplary service in managing the hard-working members of their department who went out in the most dangerous of conditions to protect lives.

The members of those departments who were out on the streets during the storm deserve a great deal credit for their dedication, their skill and their courage. It takes guts to do jobs like this, especially in conditions like the ones Sandy inflicted on us. Because our focus has shifted toward the power outages, we can almost forget how close Greenwich came to disaster from the fire in Old Greenwich that destroyed three homes and could have caused far more damage.

The bravery, training and skill of our Fire Department saved those homes. If you haven’t seen the video of the conditions those firefighters faced, check it out on Greenwich-post.com, because fighting an out-of-control fire in the best of conditions is difficult, and doing it in the middle of hurricane-force winds on the coast at high tide as tree limbs are falling is near impossible. Those firefighters saved a neighborhood from igniting, and what was a tragedy for impacted families could have been a disaster.

The very least the firefighters deserve is our thanks, and they’re not the only ones. Our police and EMS, our Red Cross officials and volunteers and average citizens helping each other out all rose above and beyond as Greenwich came together in the best ways.

There are a lot of conversations that need to be had in the coming days and weeks, especially regarding Connecticut Light & Power. The utility again let us down by not having enough line crews ready to deploy as soon as the danger was over. Promises were made to Greenwich and not kept, and it is not hindsight to say that obviously CL&P did not learn enough from past poor performances with restoring power. And the cavalier attitude of top executives has not helped.

But for now we will focus on the good things, like the performance of our Board of Selectmen. First Selectman Peter Tesei has gotten more experience than he would like with storms like this, and he has performed exceptionally under trying circumstances, keeping residents informed with vital information and acting proactively to try and get residents in flood areas to evacuate.

And this is not a one-man show. Selectmen Dave Theis and Drew Marzullo were there every step of the way, lending valuable expertise and showing why this board has functioned as an excellent team over the last three years. They put in exhausting hours in the response, leading by example all the way.

Greenwich showed what it’s made of in this storm, and it will keep doing so as the town continues to rebuild and recover.

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