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One Year Later, Three Village Recovered 'Incredibly Well' from Hurricane Irene

Local leaders say community recovered well as lessons in hurricane preparedness were learned.

One year ago, the Three Village area was in full recovery mode following Hurricane Irene. But now, the traces of Irene – which had been officially downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit our area – can scarcely be seen.

"The town actually bounced back incredibly well," town supervisor Mark Lesko said. "Right now my sense is that we’ve 100 percent recovered from Hurricane Irene."

In particular Strong's Neck, where the town had issued evacuation orders, got hit pretty hard – downed trees and wires seemingly everywhere, power out for days. But Jackie Rudman, president of the Strong's Neck Civic Association, said the community has recovered.

"I think the people here are very resilient," she said.

Rudman also praised Lesko and town councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld for their swift attention to their issues. "I think the town’s response was terrific," she said. "[They] really did everything they could to make things easy for us in a very difficult and taxing situation."

The story is the same in Stony Brook, where Paul Degen, chairman of the board of fire district commissioners, said there aren't any remnants of the storm – but what lingers is the sense of togetherness the community showed. "The residents really pulled together and helped each other out, which is always nice to see," he said.

However, Degen said, the storm put somewhat of a financial stress on an already cash-strapped fire district.

"You’re going to have to provide more water and food for the people who are going to volunteer their time," he said. "And the equipment hs to be maintained and repaired after you respond to these things. Especially in one that is 50 percent tax exempt. But we are still afloat."

Lesko also said the town is on track to receive its FEMA reimbursements – – since the administration stayed "ahead of the pack" with its claims. The town won't take much of a hit, he said, because it had a surplus in its operating budget that was able to absorb the costs until the FEMA reimbursement comes.

"We may actually end up getting our FEMA reimbursements very quickly," he said. "As early as this year, which is very quick. Normally those things take 18 to 24 months and now you’re talking 12 months."

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