11/19/2012 11:22 AM
Photo Credit: Billy Papetti
By: Nicole Sorce
Nick Hurst and Mike Schepp have a lot in common. The recent graduates of SUNY Cortland both spent time interning for the Binghamton Senators last season in sales and media relations, respectively, and grew up 15 miles away from each other in downstate New York. When Hurricanes Irene and Lee hit the Binghamton area last fall, Hurst and Schepp witnessed first-hand the devastation that the storm's flooding brought to the area. At the time, the former interns never expected that a year later, a super-storm named Sandy would ravage their own hometowns.
"There was little to no panic at all. I think because everyone evacuated last year for Hurricane Irene, and the damage was so minimal, people thought it would be okay to stay for Sandy as well."," said Hurst, a resident of Long Beach, N.Y., one of the hardest hit towns where 60% of the population rode out the hurricane from their homes. "We put some sand bags in front of the lower lying levels of our house, like the garage and back door, but that was about it."
Schepp, who lives in North Bellmore, N.Y., mentioned that among the biggest worries families had prior to the storm were losing power for a few days and not being able to go grocery shopping. Nobody expected that the storm would turn out to cause such madness.
Hurricane Sandy delivered a thrashing to the coastal areas of New York and New Jersey from the moment the storm approached and made landfall on October 29th. Sandy is currently responsible for over 3,000,000 power outages, 250,000 totaled cars, and 85 causalities, among other hardships victims in the affected areas are facing.
Schepp and his family turned out to be one of the lucky ones as his Long Island town was barely affected. "My house never lost power and had no damage done," he said.
However, Schepp's former classmate and coworker had no such luck just 15 miles southwest in Long Beach.
"We were definitely hit pretty hard," Hurst said. "The water rushed through our garage and crawl space under the house, ruining everything in the garage." The damage included the destruction of his family's boiler and hot water heater.
But that wasn't even the worst of it. The water came up about six inches high on the first floor of Hurst's home.
"We had to rip up all the carpets immediately and are starting to rip up the wood floors and damaged sheetrock now," said Hurst, who currently works for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers as a Night Sales Representative. "All three of our cars that were sitting on the street were destroyed. I haven't been able to work in Bridgeport because of the combination of having no car, home, or power, plus the gas shortage and traffic situations of the past two weeks."
Hurst continued to describe the devastation of Long Beach.
"The town in general is in pretty bad shape. Almost all of our 2.2 mile boardwalk was destroyed, along with every structure that was on the beach - the lifeguard headquarters, bathrooms, and snack vendors," described Hurst. "The sand dunes in the west end of town that were supped to protect us from flooding were completely gone and pushed up onto streets in the town."
Schepp's hometown may have survived the storm with minimal damage, but close by, Hurst's town now has a completely different landscape.
"For lack of a better term, and with the National Guard hummers driving through town and helicopters constantly flying overhead, it looked like a war zone," Hurst said. "There were almost two entire blocks of houses that caught fire and were burned to the ground in the east end that started from car fires."
Both Schepp and Hurst were excited to hear that B-Sens forwards Pat Cannone, Hugh Jessiman, and equipment manager Tom Severance arranged a hurricane relief supply drive to assist the victims of Sandy.
"I thought it was amazing to hear that the B-Sens were holding the supply drive," said Hurst. "I remember last year how badly flooding affected the Binghamton area, so I'm sure people in the area understand the devastation."
"The players that have organized this benefit drive are originally from nearby towns, and it's great to see them assist families and communities that are in desperate need," said Schepp, who currently works in the community relations department for the New York Islanders. Cannone is a native of Bayport, N.Y., while Jessiman originates from New York City. Severance worked for the Islanders in the past and lived in Wantagh, N.Y., just a few miles from Long Beach.
Hurst is especially grateful for their efforts as one of the bus's stops on Tuesday, November 13th included his town of Long Beach.
"To hear Long Beach mentioned specifically for the B-Sens drive was an awesome feeling as someone who spent time interning there last year," Hurst said. "Long Beach is a special place, and with the continued support from the relief efforts like this, it's going to back stronger than ever."