An open letter from Cornetta Bros. P & H on Hurricane Sandy



I’ll never forget the conversation I had on the morning of october 29th 2012 with a salesman in North Carolina. “Wow you should see the trees blowing down here” he remarked. The hurricane known as Superstorm Sandy was flexing her muscles across an 800 mile area as I too watched the trees beginning to sway. Hours later the storm hit land and Long Island with a powerful punch. The storm arrived as high tides crested and created record setting water surge levels. The winds knocked out power to over 80% of long Island and the ocean rose above seventeen feet in some communities. Recent FEMA data announced damage to over 74,000 structures as well as thousands of cars and boats destroyed on Long Island alone.

In the coming weeks an army of  Licensed plumbers were needed to start rebuilding. The Nassau County PHCC scheduled a meeting the following week and invited Representatives from National Grid, and all associate members. Information was badly needed and our members were concerned about dealing with salt water damaged gas regulators and the availability of heating equipment.

National Grids early estimates projected about 25,000 boilers and water heaters were subjected to salt water damage. Associate members representing Weil Mclain, Burnham, A.O. Smith, Bradford White, Taco and others advised members not to attempt repairs on heating equipment damaged with salt water.  National Grid supplied us with guidelines for safely getting gas restored to homes. The PHCC then began spreading the urgent message to “Hire Only Licensed Plumbers”.  State President Hunter Botto  contacted local media and news papers. We printed dozens of laminated lawn signs with our PHCC logo and posted them on the south shore.

A request for additional labor was sent to upstate PHCC members. Many calls were made to manafactures to ensure shipments of much needed heating equipment. I had conversations with past National president Keith Bienvenu who was in Louisiana after hurricane Katrina.

Going forward the Nassau county PHCC will continue its efforts to achieve a county license. A platform on the county level would have been a big help. The ability to alert the public and notify consumers against unlicensed contractors frustrated us. Some media outlets were also relunctant to print our notices. Local building departments were unable to handle the unprecedented amount of work and could have benefited from county support. Many of our members are now receiving calls repair incorrect and unsafe gas installations.

The PHCC was truly in the forefront of of this disaster. Today the so called” Second Wave” of work is quickly coming in. Homeowners who were forced to leave their homes are only now receiving the funding to start rebuilding. The exposure Nassau county PHCC created will also help attract new members and associates. We will continue to rebuild and promote the use of licensed plumbers.

Nassau County PHCC President

Joseph Cornetta