It's been more than four years, but people on Staten Island are still rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy. In Midland Beach, grant money is going towards an emergency wifi system. NY1’s Lindsay Tuchman filed this report.
Vinny Viola has owned Midland Liquor for 30 years, and like many in Midland Beach, his small business was destroyed when Hurricane Sandy stuck four years ago.
"We had seven feet of water," he said. “The entire store got pretty much wiped out and it took us basically four years to get back together."
Members of the Staten Island Long Term Recovery Organization are aiding in that effort. The group just received grant funding to set up a free Wi-Fi system for small businesses to stay in touch with customers and emergency officials during a potential disaster.
Tom Cunsolo, a board member, was also hit hard by Sandy, so he knows why this is so important.
"Communication, without communication you don't know what's going on," Cunsolo said. "I lost my house, everything in it, two cars, it was like everybody else."
Cassandra Missall is the director of the recovery organization and says this so-called mesh network internet system reroutes connections if a site goes down to keep Wifi going during emergencies. Viola was the first to sign on.
"Between record keeping, and getting in touch with customers, we do delivery service, so all that will be in place," Viola said. “Hopefully we never have to use that but it's nice to know it's there."
The LTRO still needs more businesses to commit before setting it all up.
"You can't predict the future,” Missall said. “We don't know when the next storm is coming, we don't know how bad it's going to be, we need to be prepared now for the worst case scenario."
Missall asks businesses to contact her directly at email@example.com or 917-808-0061, if they want to be involved with the Wifi system.