by Bob Dumas
PUTNAM VALLEY, N.Y. – At a meeting held last week with local officials and residents, state Senator Greg Ball (R, C – Patterson) said government should use Tropical Storm Irene as a “teaching moment” to prepare for future disasters.
“The fact is that New York State right now is not fully nor completely prepared for either a targeted terrorist attack to our grid or a natural disaster of greater impact than Irene,” Ball said. “This storm could have been a lot worse. Had it been, we would’ve seen tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of families without power and water for weeks, if not months.
“Furthermore, pockets of communities throughout the Hudson Valley would have suffered from Katrina-like implications just minutes north of Manhattan, with families cut off from food, water, emergency services and power for an indefinite period of time. Thousands of uniformed personnel, utility workers and volunteers dutifully stepped up to the plate, yet we simply did not provide the support they needed, and as a state it is my opinion that we were not prepared to the extent we should have been.”
Ball held a meeting in Putnam Valley Saturday with officials from Somers and Yorktown, as well as area residents to discuss the response to the storm.
“We were given information that we shared with our residents, and that information turned out to be false,” said Somers Supervisor Marybeth Murphy said. She also questioned the infrastructure’s condition prior to the storm, asking whether it was already frail when the storm hit, causing more damage.
Yorktown Councilman Nick Bianco said an investigation into the utility companies was necessary to provide constructive criticism.
“I believe they did not prepare well,” Bianco said. “Only after we criticized them did we see any action from our utilities. We need to find out what went wrong, and determine how we can improve it.”
Putnam Valley Councilwoman Wendy Whetsel agreed that the focus needs to be on communication.
“We need to revamp our communication so people are much more confident with what’s going on, so they see an end in sight,” Whetsel said. “There are better ways of keeping our residents informed.”
Ball said that the dry ice provided by NYSEG was “a drop in the bucket” compared to what was needed.
“The dry ice provided was a drop in the bucket compared to what was needed,” Ball said.
“We need to drill down into the details and determine how we could be better prepared at all levels of government, and use this storm as a teaching moment,” he said. (ARTICLE)