Senator David Carlucci, a member of the bipartisan Task Force, was a key organizer of Friday’s meeting at the Nanuet Library with local and state officials from Rockland and Ossining. This was the third meeting of the task force for Hurricane Sandy Recovery, which first met on Dec. 10, 2012 in the Rockaways in Queens. The Task Force has also toured Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.
“I have been outspoken about long-term solutions that we must address going forward, including helping homeowners tackle mold damage, ensure that gas stations have backup generators along strategic routes and secure funding for communities that need the help most,” said Carlucci.
In an earlier Patch Post of this roundtable discussion, state officials asked localities whether or not there should be privatization of the utility companies.
Various Rockland agencies gave their suggestions on how to move forward post-Sandy.
Rockland Sheriff Lou Falco recommended that gas stations have generators for public safety reasons and another issue he ran into was senior citizens who had expensive medicine in need of refrigeration.
Chris Jensen, program coordinator with the County’s Office of Fire & Emergency Services, also listed off his concerns during Sandy.
One of the big issues Jensen ran into was senior citizen sites and assisted living homes. Many were not prepared beforehand with generators or proper emergency procedures. Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee interjected that she was currently working on legislation to require generators for these senior citizen sites.
Jensen also said that Rockland County needs to be included in the tidal surge map the federal government develops fro Long Island, NYC and Westchester.
“Historically, Rockland has not been included in the (map). Westchester was included because they are on the Sound. They are in the process right now (of creating it). We asked the to include Rockland in their studies. The data can help us with development and planning for the next storm,” said Jensen. He said that FEMA has also evolved (over the last few storms) and are more efficient.
Jensen said that a narrative that was released Monday states that NYC has not yet been completed, but there is no reference to Rockland County
Senator Malcolm Smith added that FEMA is restructuring after Hurricane Sandy because 2-family homes are categorized as a business right now.
Steve Reich, of Laborers Local 754, said, “we train our people in construction, emergency response and traffic control procedures. These are areas where I can take my people and” replace police officers directing traffic at downed signal lights so those officers can do their job.
Reich added that his group can help with the preparations such as trimming trees surrounding power lines and of course, assist with the clean up. “Before we bring in outside help, we need to look for our own talent here.”
Andy Bicking, director of public policy & special operations for Scenic Hudson, said that “from an environmental perspective, … we need to think regionally and look at the Hudson River water shed. Water does not follow political jurisdictions.”
“We need to focus on built and natural solutions,” said Bicking, adding that in the future, data from water level predictions can assist with future superstorms and hurricanes. His three recommendations are as follows:
- Develop community resilience plans on the local, state and federal level
- There needs to be a climate change principal
- There needs to be a sea level rise open space plan
About the Task Force
The Task Force is identifying areas most in need of recovery assistance and reviewing the rebuilding and storm planning policies to remove roadblocks and ensure better storm preparedness. The Task Force will develop legislative solutions to implement the recommendations made by Governor Cuomo's NYS 2100 Commission, the NYS Respond Commission and the NYS Ready Commission. Members have thus far traveled to other areas impacted by Superstorm Sandy, including the Rockaways and most recently in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.