Nurse practitioner Tonia Brendel, B.S. '84, M.S. '90, is a very thankful person. Even with the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to her South Freeport, New York, home, she knows, "Many people are a lot worse off."

Adelphi’s Winter Wonderland—A Welcome Diversion for Tonia Brendel, B.S. ’84, M.S. ’90, and other Sandy Victims

Nurse practitioner Tonia Brendel, B.S. ’84, M.S. ’90, is a very thankful person. Even with the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to her Freeport, New York, home, she knows, “Many people are a lot worse off.”

“I evacuated with [my daughters] Veronica (22), Melody (10) and our dog Lilly to my [older] daughter, Marilyn’s (25) apartment in Connecticut the Sunday before Sandy,” Mrs. Brendel said. Her son, Peter (19), was away at college. Her husband, Phil Brendel, stayed put to keep an eye on the family home located near the bay.

Melody Brendal (left) with friend Kenjee Paz-Mejias at Adelphi’s December 2012 Winter Wonderland event.

Sandy’s power was evident early on when a bedroom window blew out. As soon as it was repaired, the property was breached at high tide by eight inches of water. The flooding meant that leaving was unsafe. Mr. Brendel stayed home and was there when the fuse box began to smolder. By turning off the main breaker, he probably prevented the house from burning down.

Returning the first Saturday after the storm, Mrs. Brendel could barely control her emotions—piles of garbage everywhere, street lights not working, emergency vehicles and police on patrol looking to stop looting in empty homes. “As I drove down our street, I could not help but tear up, but I did not want my husband to see me cry because he had been working so hard to clean the house [with bleach] so that we could come home,” she said. Mr. Brendel had been living there for days in the cold and dark.

Making the home livable again has taken a tremendous effort—cleaning, throwing out belongings and moving what was salvageable so that construction could begin. The Brendels are grateful for the help they’ve received from volunteers and coworkers who cleaned out the formerly submerged garage.

With the entire neighborhood in some sort of demolition or construction stage, Mrs. Brendel was thankful to receive an invitation to Adelphi’s Winter Wonderland. The event, held on Saturday, December 8, offered entertainment and enrichment activities, such as a bounce house, face-painting, ballroom dancing, poetry- and story-writing and arts and crafts, for children of families impacted by Sandy.

“Melody and her friend had a great time, and it was refreshing to get her out of the neighborhood” Mrs. Brendel said of the event.

Ruth S. Ammon School of Education Professor and Department Chair Devin Thornburg spearheaded the event, and called it a true cross-campus collaboration among schools and departments. Freshmen in the Levermore Global Scholars Program designed the activities, which were staffed by 40 volunteers.

Mr. Thornburg said, “We had 278 children and their family members from the Hempstead, Freeport and Rockaways communities… In my 25 years at the University, no event has been more successful, well-attended and meaningful to me personally.”

The Winter Wonderland was one of a number of outreach and recovery programs that Adelphi has held in response to Hurricane Sandy. Catch more photos from the Winter Wonderland photo booth.

For further information, please contact:

Todd Wilson
Strategic Communications Director 
p – 516.237.8634
e –

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