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Nassau County sent manpower and equipment to storm-battered Buffalo on Monday — as a way of saying “thanks” for the aid it received during Superstorm Sandy.
A group of 18 volunteer public-works and emergency-management employees, as well as heavy equipment, was headed to the upstate city from Long Island to assist in recovery efforts there.
The arrangement was set up by two local officials who had never met: Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat, the Buffalo News reported.
“In times like this, we’re all Americans and all residents of the State of New York,” Blakeman said.
“This isn’t about politics. It’s a humanitarian effort, and we are returning the favor from the people of Erie County during Superstorm Sandy,” the pol said.
In 2012, Blakeman recalled that firefighters from western New York came down to Long Island to volunteer and help the region recover from the devastation of Sandy.
Monday’s benevolent gesture took shape after Gov. Kathy Hochul called Blakeman on Saturday to see how Long Island was coping with the local coastal flooding and freezing temperatures that came along with the blockbuster blizzard hitting upstate.
“When someone is in dire circumstances, and when you have the resources to help and you don’t, it would be a terrible shame,” Blakeman said. “We’re just trying to do our part.”
Poloncarz thanked the Long Island leader for the assistance as upstate officials navigate the unprecedented storm, and he sent a “very beautiful text message” to show his gratitude, Blakeman said.
The Long Island caravan included two pay-loaders, a New York State Police escort of four vehicles, a large generator, large air pump and pickup trucks.
At least 27 people have died upstate in the storm so far. Victims range in age from 26 to 93.
The colossal storm battered counties such as Erie, which includes the city of Buffalo, and Niagara, dumping nearly 4 feet of snow and leaving roads impassable and thousands of households without electricity.
A travel ban is in place in Buffalo, with roads so icy and buried in snow that it has been nearly impossible for snow plows to clear them. The city’s airport is also closed until Tuesday.