Being a resident of Glen Cove, New York I can personally say that along with it’s vast history, Glen Cove happens to be a truly breathtaking “suburb-city”. We are tucked away in a fabulous “North of 25A” Nassau county waterfront location. Our residents enjoy 3 community beaches as well as many private beaches; we are surrounded by water, trees, parks and nature preserves.
Glen Cove being a city helps offer seclusion from outside sources, being that we are independent with our own police department, fire house and notable hospital. Over the past years the face of Glen Cove has been ever-changing. Many new storefronts opening for business; more restaurants, lounges, pizzeria’s and deli’s added to our already impressive list. Other big construction plans have included assisted living homes, new townhouse complexes as well as 2 large Avalon Luxury apartment buildings. One of the still ongoing projects is a remodeling of the NW side of our downtown. A million dollar plan to build a bridge set into action by our former mayor Mary Ann Holzkamp.
In the beginning of the demolition/construction we (the residents of Glen Cove) received a post card sized notification stating that the toxic waste had been removed and the water was clean. Many of our trees in the construction area had to be ripped out, and there are connecting streams and land patches also involved with this area. It was at this point that I looked back at the construction area and wondered how much of this was part of the original construction plan and how much was just for our safety. Still having mixed emotions upon reading….happy because the waste was gone, yet confused as to why I didn’t know we had a problem in the first place. Regardless of the questions arising in my head, I still joked with family and friends blaming everyday abnormalities on “it must be the water!”
Days, weeks, months turned into years, we elected a new Mayor, Ralph Suozzi (my personal vote) but her bridge project still went on. Our roads sometimes are extra congested due to the remodel, and even though from the street view the area definitely looks different to locals, it still somehow is not what we expected. Now leading us up-to-date, as per the Glen Cove officials, our water pump at 12a.m. on May 22, 2007 had lost pressure. On May 23, 2007 at 4:30p.m. I heard from another resident (which still was a rumor at this point) say that our water was contaminated. I immediately turned on Channel 12 news because at this point I had already been showering, brushing my teeth, using ice in my beverages ect. Nothing on Channel 12 so remembering the now not-so-funny joke of our water, I decided to call our police department.
It was then confirmed that is was in fact contaminated, I was instructed to not brush my teeth but everything else was OK. I had questioned what was the cause and effect of this-yet they didn’t have an answer. He had only been instructed to say just that. I continued to ask what would happen since I had already used and ingested the water, what I should look for? If you can’t brush your teeth, why can we wash in it-or-if someone has a cut, can you wash the open would in the water and the officers’ response to me was that he could not understand my concern and maybe I should call the hospital! Needless to say I was outraged by his lack of information but more so from his lack of respect for a rightfully so, inquisitive, taxpaying resident.
Calling then the hospital, at least the woman I spoke to had a bit nicer of an approach. Even still, she was unable to answer my questions which made some questions arise for her. She couldn’t understand first off why the police would direct the call into the hospital when they weren’t notified first to handle the onslaught of phone calls. Secondly why the hospital wasn’t informed further on the subject. I asked “Well, if you have already ingested this water what do you look for?” She couldn’t say because they had not been informed meaning that if something did go wrong, no one would know where to begin. In speaking with her, I started to think about a family member who recently had operations with still open wounds, lowered immune systems and old age. Do I really want them to wash with this water? She again was very nice but non-informative, but she understood my concern and offered the phone number to the Health Department and advised that I contact our Mayor regarding the officers attitude.
Moving along to then the next phone call…the Health Department. After speaking to the answering service a representative quickly responded by calling me back. Again, a very nice man in comparison, but he told me that he thought it happened a couple of days ago. This posed a conflict to me but I didn’t mention the difference of opinions I was getting. He then told me that he would make some phone calls to find out what was going on and get back to me-which he did stating that the water was still contaminated. Unfortunately he couldn’t answer any further questions and just told me to call back tomorrow to follow up on the latest test results.
It is now 7p.m., and I have already made dinner and washed the dishes. Chicken washed with the water, instant mashed potatoes with the water and steamed string beans with, yep-you guessed it! I get a phone call from a neighbor telling me that they have now received a letter in the mailbox warning about the water. I go outside and sure enough there it is, (a lovely, little to late) stating: Don’t brush teeth (done already) Don’t prepare food with (done already) Don’t use ice (done already) I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. On the notice was Town Halls contact number and I called. The representative said that it wasn’t contaminated!?! I told her what the local precinct and hospital were saying otherwise. She responded with “This is all just preventative” and I said “From what?” We went back and forth for a while until I changed the subject to “Why were we notified so late in the day, after the majority of residents have already gone a whole day using the water?” The answer: We had to wait for clearance from the Health Department to send out fliers. I then mentioned that I had already spoken to the Health Department and they weren’t sure why I wasn’t told and further more that they said it happened days prior. Well, the conversation then ended with again “its prevention”. I questioned if we’re going on a hunch if its contaminated or not. After hanging up with her, I didn’t understand why so we have service of police officers driving around with loudspeakers to announce storms, blizzards, street cleaning and even the arrival of Santa Claus riding the fire engine around town. We should have been notified louder then a letter slipped into our mailboxes after hours. Do we have an emergency system of notification?
So much like everyone else, I then at nighttime went to the store to find some bottled water and a bag of ice. At the point I was disgusted by the whole thing. I awoke the next morning, May 24, 2007 and called the Health Department but today their line was busy, busy, busy. Finally around 5p.m. I got through to the health answering service and unlike yesterday due to the over whelming amount of calls a representative would not be reached to call me back. Instead the woman was instructed to tell residents that the water was still unusable, testing will continue and that we’re only to use bottled water. I asked about boiling the water and was advised that it would still not be suitable. I again asked what is in this water because being a certified ServSafe food manager I know that many forms of bacteria is killed off with high-cooking temperatures. She told me that it was not up to her to answer that kind of question, in the same moment I hung up with her to receive a phone call (again by the only fluid source for the story) from another resident stating that people were now encouraged to not wash with the water! This was one of my initial questions! Thankfully I went against their guarantees of safety, and personally didn’t take a shower today. Even though I feel dirty in some aspects, I feel cleaner for it at the same time.
There are many questions and concerns aside form the problem at hand. The first toxic waste problem years ago was very much hush-hush until it was cleaned up. I refuse to let this follow suit, we will all continue to follow this story as we all try to live without the luxury of running water to do the day to day activities-forget about it being Memorial Day Weekend when all pools are opening-forget that the forecast says it will be very warm to not have ice and water at hand, but must purchase ice to clog up the freezer. The irony of the situation is being without the luxury of running water as I wash my face and brush my teeth with Evian water!
I will continue to make phone calls and follow this to hopefully intercept and “sweeping under the rug” and notify the public of any findings. In the mean time, if you live or will be visiting the Glen Cove area for this weekend make sure you follow these precautionary steps:
1. Empty ice trays and do not refill
2. Use paper plates and utensils for you cannot properly wash them.
3. If boiling water is still unusable, say time out to the dishwasher.
4. Use pre-made packaged foods that don’t need water for cleaning or preparations. Ex. No salads, vegetables, instant foods.
5. No outside watering, cleaning, playing.
**As of 7:30p.pm. May 24, 2007 I just received another silent notice in my mailbox stating the water is now clean. I called the Health Department to concur and they hadn’t received word yet. Understanding that the local government would not want to onset a panic-I still feel unsettled on how this was handled. I only know all of this information because I had to research it myself. I can only hope and I am sure others will feel the same way that if there is another potential emergency or situation that there is a direct order to PROMPTLY notify concerned residents and in the least have answers for their questions.