We may be one of the poorest counties, but when a tragedy strikes we are the richest. The resolve of our people continually amazes me. I have said it time and time again, the people of Sullivan County are some of the most caring and dedicated people.
Although The Grandview might be gone forever, what lives on is a legacy of people who professionally came together in a tragic time of need.
Thank God no one was killed or severely injured in the rapidly spreading inferno. Thank God for our unsung heroes who are always there for us. Our brave volunteer firefighters and rescue workers are truly our heroes.
Firefighter Barry Hoovis, who was on the scene delivering water to those fighting the blaze said, “We all worked as a team. Everyone knew their roles.”
Public Safety Commissioner Richard Martinkovic and his staff must be praised for their quick on the spot coordinating efforts. The professionalism and compassion of law enforcement and all of the responders was astonishing.
I visited the makeshift shelter at SCCC, and saw firsthand the hard working Red Cross volunteers comforting Grandview residents. Those in need were given food, shelter, emergency kits, and were assisted in filling out reports.
David Seigerman, Director of Public Safety at SCCC said, “We are a community college, the community needs us, and we are all here to step up for the community.”
Grandview residents I spoke with were shocked and in disbelief. Shivers ran up my spine as they told me their tragic stories. “I lost everything,” a woman cried to me.
“It’s all so sad. There was no other place like the Grandview,” said Rachel Belag who learned of the fire while at dinner.
Belag said she did not know where she will eventually live or if any of her possessions will ever be recovered.
Phyllis and Bert Haitmann said fire alarms going off at the Grandview were a way of life. They were angry with Town of Fallsburg officials and held them responsible for granting occupancy permits if they “knew it was a disaster waiting to happen.”
Others were outraged recently paid property taxes would not be returned.
Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson, who was at the fire said, “Absolutely everyone was spot on in their response and the results were amazing. Things could have gone so differently. There are so many people and so many organizations that I could single out for their tireless commitment and accomplishment in making the best of a very bad situation, but for fear of leaving someone out I can only say how proud I am that I live among such incredible people.”
Samuelson added, “It was like watching a well oiled machine, as if everyone worked together in this situation every day. It was a seamless display of caring, efficiency, and immediacy. I am proud to call Sullivan County my home and want to personally thank each and every responder.”
Legislator Cora Edwards, who heads Public Safety, noted “as we shift from rescue mode to helping people put their lives back together, we want to acknowledge the strong community links that help us move from one day to the next at this very critical time.”
There will be theories as to why and how this fire started. Could it have been prevented? Should anyone be held accountable? All that will come later.
For now, we all have to thank God the outcome was not as severe as it could have been.