The Town of Babylon celebrated the power of its community and the hard work of volunteers following the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, dedicating a monument at Tanner Park in Copiague on Saturday nearly a year after the storm made landfall in the northeast.
"Literally the day after, people starting coming out of their homes and springing up – those people who didn't live in the affected area and setting up tables with food and supplies," said Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer. "These groups sprung up across our town... if we didn't have the kindness and generosity and creativity of all these groups of how to pull together... they were a lifeline to so many people ."
The monument, which is located between the Senior Center and the Beach Hut at Tanner Park, lists over 30 different organizations from fire and police departments to volunteer groups like Adopt a House, Camp Bulldog and Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
The plaque at Tanner Park reads: "When the Town of Babylon was struck by Superstorm Sandy in the fall of 2012, many residents were exposed to dangerous storm conditions; some of whom were rescued from their homes. These brave men and women were the first to answer the call when their neighbors needed them the most. We thank them for their service and dedicate this plaque to them."
"It goes without saying that it was the first responders and volunteers who didn't question what they had to do but did what they had to to protect their neighbors," said Schaffer, who said Tanner Park alone suffered over $4 million worth of damages during the storm – likening it as a symbol of recovery for the communities throughout the town. "These men and women were charging in as everyone else was charging out."
"They did not know what they were going to face... and these brave men and women did what they had to to rescue their neighbors and, for that, we are forever grateful," Schaffer added.
Schaffer was joined by dozens of elected officials from throughout the town, including Suffolk County Legislator Wayne Horsley, Lindenhurst Deputy Mayor Kevin McCaffrey, Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino and others.
He added: "We [the elected officials] are in agreement that we will not rest until every person is back in their home in the condition it was on October 28, 2012."
The freshly dedicated monument also thanked "The People of the Town of Babylon," as Schaffer said there was always the possibility of a group or person forgotten from the extensive list.
"I think this is a year none of us want to repeat," said Kim Skillen, founder of Neighbors Supporting Neighbors. "But one of the things we learned is what a great community we live in here in Babylon."
Skillen added: "There's a lot of work still to be done and we are dedicated to doing that work... and we hope when people see this monument that it stands for community... We always band together and make sure we are there for each other."
"We wanted it to be a fitting tribute to not only all of our first responders," said Schaffer. "But to all of the volunteers that came together... this monument comes from all of us with love and respect for all that you've done."