It began before the sun had risen on Thursday, two village employees piloting a borrowed bakery truck more than 100 miles into Connecticut, beyond Hartford, to pick up dry ice in Enfield.
And before the sun had set Thursday, Port Chester residents had carried off — in bags of a half-dozen pounds a piece — more than a ton of frozen carbon dioxide, the quintessential coolant after a trickster like Sandy pulls the plug on most everyone’s fridge.
“We sent two DPW workers up there at 6 in the morning,” Port Chester Mayor Dennis Pilla was saying in the afternoon outside the Senior Community Center on Grace Church Street. “They drove up there and back—and here we are.”
“Here” was the senior center’s parking lot, chilly under a sullen, slate-gray November sky. Volunteers and members of the Department of Public Works cut up, bagged and distributed the dry ice. It had arrived in the back of a truck borrowed from Neri’s Bakery, shipping as 100 separate blocks, paper-wrapped and weighing 50 pounds apiece. All told, the truck had deposited in the parking lot a $6,000, two-and-a-half ton dry-iceberg.
The dry ice is being handed out again today (Friday) until 5 p.m. at the Senior Center.
A grateful Mayor Pilla thanked Dominic Neri for use of the container truck, saying, "We are very grateful . . . for his great generosity."
Gloved DPW workers unwrapped each frozen block, its temperature a frostbite-inducing −109.3 degrees Farenheit. In addition to its potential to injure, the extraordinarily low temperature of dry ice compared with water ice’s 32 degrees makes it an excellent coolant and expedient substitute for an out-of-action refrigerator or freezer.
With a familiar snarl, a chainsaw then bit into the blocks, creating eight separate pieces, ready for bagging.
Meanwhile, volunteers like Giovanna Fallanca created the double-bagged packaging, which included a stapled sheet of warnings and handling instructions. And if that wasn’t enough, each resident picking up the ice had to sign a waiver releasing the village from damages the dry ice might cause. Its extreme cold makes the material dangerous to handle without proper protection—insulated gloves are recommended, for example, to avoid frostbite burns.
Chris Ameigh, assistant to Port Chester Village Manager Christopher Steers, handed the waiver form through the driver’s window to Thelma Pardo, who like most Port Chester residents has been without power since Hurricane Sandy slapped her history-making fingers across the village’s face Monday.
Ameigh swapped a bag of dry ice for Thelma's signed waiver and she drove off.