This story was submitted by Our Lady of Mercy Academy's Valerie Gigante.
John Geagan is known to many as the tenth grade and AP Government teacher at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset as well as the school’s tennis and lacrosse coach. To others, John is recognized as a member of the Major League Lacrosse League’s Long Island Lizards team and an award-winning coach.
What fewer people may know is that John Geagan is a member of the Long Beach Auxiliary Police Force and had quite a story to share about his experiences in Long Beach during Hurricane Sandy that changed the face of the barrier island forever.
As a member of the Long Beach Auxiliary Police Force, John volunteers weekly to assist the Long Beach Police Department with various duties, all in an effort to protect and serve the residents of Long Beach.
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As the forecast of Hurricane Sandy evolved, John joined his fellow officers in warning residents of the storm’s danger and providing assistance with evacuation. He patrolled the boardwalk, helping to close it and keep it clear. He went door to door, warning residents when power lines were in danger of falling into already flood-‐ravaged streets, creating dangerous pools of electrified waters.
John and his team worked tirelessly until the storm surge hit, the water level rising so high that they were forced to seek shelter in a local home. At one point in the night, the water level rose to five feet outside the house. No longer able to assist those in need, John recalled, “We just had to sit it out and wait for the storm to pass. It was hard because we couldn’t help anyone.”
Once the waters retreated, John hitched a ride on the back of a fire truck to police headquarters. “It felt like a big bomb had gone off and people were coming outside to look at the damage,” John reminisces. With a new transport vehicle, John continued out with his team into the storm-ravaged community, helping to spread vital information to dazed residents, transporting medical emergency victims to Red Cross shelters, and comforting people by listening to their stories.
“We let them know that Long Beach was there for them; that they were going to be OK,” John remembers.
Long Beach Auxiliary Police Captain Ed Olivia served alongside John during the hurricane.
“PO John Geagan was with me throughout the storm as well as the days following," Olivia said. "John's ability to stay calm and collected while handling a variety of stressful and dangerous issues is the main reason our department of volunteers is a true asset to the City of Long Beach. His ability and willingness to go above and beyond during a national disaster, even while his family's loss from the storm was large, is truly remarkable. John and his fellow Long Beach Auxiliary Officers answered the bell at a critical time and continue to make the City of Long Beach an amazing community filled with caring individuals. I'm honored to have worked along side John and the rest of our Department during this difficult time and I'm proud to continue that dedication and tradition as we all move forward."
As a member of the Our Lady of Mercy Academy school community, John Geagan can attest that a call to service is a way of life. Following the hurricane, Mercy students also answered the call to service and immediately began collecting and distributing necessary items to those most in need – especially in the Rockaways. A blood drive was held at the school with students donating 55 pints of blood to a dwindling New York blood supply. A food drive realized carloads of non-perishables that found their way to The INN (Interfaith Nutrition Network) – a not-for-profit organization that feeds and shelters the homeless on Long Island.
A toy drive is currently under way to provide some joy to homeless youth in communities across the Island. Our Lady of Mercy Academy is proud that John Geagan is part of the Mercy Family and a stellar role model for the young women of the Academy.