Woodstock Supervisor Bill McKenna expressed gratitude for the people who went above and beyond to help others through the recent ice storm that ravaged the area and cut power to many for several days.
“Storm Lamont…and I didn’t realize that we’re now labeling ice and snow storms, but there you have it…was one for the record books. I can’t remember storm in the last 30 years that caused as much outages for as long a time,” McKenna said at the February 8 Town Board meeting. “I do remember past hurricanes where it may have looked worse. But this one is a record.”
He thanked Woodstockers as a whole. “…as a community, I as a supervisor, I couldn’t be prouder of the way our town stepped up to the plate, how people pulled together, how they took care of one another how they looked out for one another how they helped out where they could.”
The town employees took on the challenge, including the police and dispatch departments, who along with the hundreds of calls they took, conducted safety and welfare checks on residents and transported people to the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center which operated as a Red Cross shelter.
Highway Superintendent Scott Bonestell and the Department staff “did a spectacular job keeping the roads safe and passable so that all the repair crews could get through and so that we could get around,” he said. McKenna thanked Bookkeeper Pam Boyle and Deputy Supervisor Lynn Sehwerert who helped with logistics. The fire department and rescue squad also deserved praise, he said.
“On top of dealing with multiple multiple calls…over the last five days they dealt with a major structure fire in the middle of the night. It couldn’t have been under worse circumstances and everybody just performed and did a great job. And on top of that we had mutual aid from all our surrounding towns. So not only did Woodstock pull together but other communities really just pulled together for us,” McKenna said.
He thanked the Red Cross staff who came up from New Jersey as well as state Senator Michelle Hinchey and Ulster County Legislator Jonathan Heppner and the Town Board for keeping the shelter running. Councilman Reggie Earls spent the first 36 hours at the Community Center, making sure the generator kept running and the heat was working, McKenna said.
The National Guard was brought in to help with the shelter and the highlight was a bedridden 90-year-old named Phyllis.
“She’s not very mobile. Phyllis was with her aide in her house around the corner from the Community Center and we couldn’t get her. We tried to get the police to get her over and we couldn’t get her in the car. So I went back to the Community Center and asked for the three airmen (to help)” McKenna said. “And, it took an effort, but it was just wonderful. And we got her shelter and we got her food, and she was there for a couple of days,” McKenna added.
The best part was when Phyllis was brought back home.
“The smile on her face when we put her back in her bed. I will never forget it was just priceless,” McKenna said.
Central Hudson restoration was ‘phenomenal’
“What they did in the last five days is just unbelievable. They had 1000 individuals, many from outside the area between linemen and crews, and it was just a phenomenal, phenomenal effort. And I know it’s always frustrating, but they worked in single-degree temperatures. They were going for 14, 16-hour days,” McKenna said.
“And one in particular, George Dafoe, was the lineman foreman in Woodstock, and he was just a consummate professional. He was wonderful to deal with. There was no BS, he gave me the straight and it was just an incredible pleasure to deal with,” McKenna said. “So I thank him and I’ve already called the CEO of Central Hudson to really let him know that man deserves a medal.”
McKenna thanked his wife, Hilary, who kept the house running smoothly while he was out and about. “She made it easy for me to not have to worry about what was going on at home. And it really allowed me to focus fully on the town.”
Restaurants provided food for shelter
Councilwoman Maria-Elena Conte thanked Catskill Mountain Pizza for food donations. In the middle of the night, Maria’s Bazar owner Marwan Rzek opened, got the wood-fired oven going and made pizzas.
Locals Heather Free and Dino Martinez volunteered to pick up the pizzas from Catskill Mountain Pizza and Maria’s and deliver them to the shelter.
“I said a few years ago, when I quit a full-time job but didn’t have another job lined up… I said if I’m going to struggle, I want to struggle in Woodstock because I know there are people there that are going to make sure I’m okay,” Councilman Reggie Earls said.
Councilwoman Laura Ricci thanked teenager Serena Ratcliff, who brought food to the community center before the other deliveries started to arrive and Toni Weidenbacher, who made signs directing people to the shelter.