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Residents Say Suffolk Needs Disaster Plan

Speakers at Thursday's County hearing on Hurricane Sandy said plan needed to facilitate better communication, emergency preparedness in advance of natural disasters.

Does Suffolk County need a disaster preparedness plan to deal with catastrophic events such as Hurricane Sandy?

The answer from residents at a public hearing held by the County Legislature Thursday was clearly yes. Legislators gathered at the William H. Rogers Legislative Building in Smithtown to obtain feedback from residents on how to better handle a major event such as the recent superstorm.

Commack resident Debra Ettenberg felt a “crisis plan” is needed, saying that no one knew where to turn immediately after the storm.

"Often times you were told to go to the Internet. We didn’t have internet," she said. "When you have a crisis plan, think about the individual homes and let them know what the plan is so they can therefore relay [the need] to those agencies."

Fellow Commack resident Maureen Veprek felt the location of her hamlet at the “tail end” of the towns of Huntington and Smithtown was a factor in a slow recovery.

"We’re very underserved because we don’t have a central person to go to," she said. "Having coordination and communication seems to be the overriding thought here tonight."

To help get the word out to local residents Ettenberg said agencies such as local fire departments, schools, libraries, and community organizations should be involved in communicating it to the public.

Residents who advocated for a crisis plan said the county should be the lead agency in prioritizing what services need to be repaired.

Vito Cottone, also of Commack, said following an event like Sandy the county needs to get the roads cleared, traffic lights working and also create a list of where residents can charge personal electronic devices such as cell phones.

"It was so chaotic and nobody knew what was happening," he said of the days after Sandy hit Long Island. "That’s got to change."

In addition to developing a countywide crisis plan, others said further investment in downtowns would help Suffolk manage through other major natural disasters.

"We need an emergency plan for Long Island built off the strength of the local communities," said Eric Alexander, executive director of Vision Long Island. "There are a lot of infrastructure needs for our downtowns that we’re going to lobby for."

He told legislators that about half of the county’s 60 downtowns became the center for community interaction in the aftermath of the storm because they never lost power.

"Folks were charging their devices, getting meals, coming together," Alexander said. "I think that speaks to the importance of our downtown communities."

Legislators Kara Hahn, D-Setauket, and Kate Browning, D-Shirley, asked Alexander if he thought older systems such as traditional land telephone lines have a place alongside newer technologies in future preparedness.

"I think what you need is duplication in this instance," Alexander said.

Some felt that an environmental team was also needed as part of a countywide emergency response team, while others stressed the importance of restoring the barrier beaches along the south shore.

"The mere existence of that sand levy was of indispensable value to the mainland," said Irving Like, a resident of Fire Island.

Legis. Wayne Horsely, D-Babylon, said the speakers' testimonies and ideas would be taken into consideration when the county prepares a full report on Hurricane Sandy.

Stinker December 07, 2012 at 08:52 PM
I would recommend people make their own plans. Suffolk County has a plan already. Its keep your fingers crossed and swim.
jozee December 07, 2012 at 09:38 PM
you got that right stinker!!! no one was anywhere to be found (politicians) where were town supervisors and suffolk county executive??? talking about town charging stations and ice etc, that wasnt available until about day 6 of no power it really was disgusting how our "emergency management" did not keep us in the loop, nor was there any emergency places for anyone to go to, at least not in smithtown, commack, kings park, nesconset, so forth and so on the closest place was in bayshore, however how were you suppose to get there??? it was a fiasco
Bbambi December 07, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Our favorite: "coastal evacuation route" signs
Chris December 07, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Jokes aside - very funny BTW... NYC has had a system in place for quite a while - and there is also a National Plan called "NIMS". Not hard to implement - all of the necessary services already exist its a matter of coordinating all of the services of Nassau and Suffolk (God forbid everyone should work together) when activated, train the people involved in participation and coordination and establish a chain of command. It becomes one stop shopping for all services for all residents. It is a simple and effective concept. Long Island needs an Office for Emergency Management for both counties to pool resources in times of disaster. http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/about/about_cims.shtml
Dad of Three December 07, 2012 at 11:47 PM
A natural disaster often generates societal "wisdom", and, in hindsight, all of this NOW seems evident to so many people on Long Island. It was evident to the people of South Carolina after Hugo, and it was evident to the people of Florida after Andrew, and it was evident to the people of North Carolina after Hurricane Floyd, and it was evident to the people of Louisiana/Mississippi/Alabama after Hurricane Katrina. Now, stop complaining about what went wrong, and get with the program of fixing it, as Sandy is not likely to be a One Hundred Year storm, but more like a Triennial storm.
Paul Hart December 08, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Exactly. It can be given that a similar storm will have widespread power outages of similar durations, and impassable roads. We should learn from Sandy. I plan on getting a small electric generator running off natural gas with enough capacity to keep the heat on and food cold plus a couple of lights.
jozee December 08, 2012 at 12:56 PM
chris not only does both counties have an oem but i believe all the towns do as well, and another duplication of services, or should i say non-services.
Chris December 08, 2012 at 01:26 PM
jozee - I'm sure that there are. Your point is well taken. Just seems to me that this is part of the problem that includes Long Island politics and turf. There needs to be one overriding local authority that transcends the sub levels of government. If it needs to be couny based so be it - but I imagine the problems of Seaford are similar to Lindenhurst and Oyster Bay to Northport, so why not coordinate as one in these situations. Oh, thats right - because everyone is desperate to hold onto their piece of the pie (and the credit when applicable)
Ranger Sewer December 08, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Do you think the Goverment will take care of you? Do not trust anybody but YOURSELF to have your plan to either bunker down, lock and load or Get out of Dodge.
2 Turn Tables December 08, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Bob, that's racist!
Goin' Commando December 08, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Well, yes, it was a racist statement, but it primarily points out just how stupid North Fork Bob is. He proudly wears his ignorance as if it were a medal from the American Moron Society.
Johny Q December 08, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Though I recognized you, the president of the AMS?
2 Turn Tables December 08, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Now, when we allocate money towards "Human Services - Minority Affairs Division", one may ask, what does the Minority Affairs Division do? You read the mission, and it's very vague and ambiguous. If we allocated money from something like that, perhaps Huntington would be better prepared for the next storm. And... Supervisor Petrone's robo-calls were a bit annoying.
North Fork Bob December 09, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I didn't write that post and don't know who did.As far as being stupid take it where it came from. I've been called a lot of things in my life but never stupid.Except by fools who like to shoot their mouths off.You can expect idiotic drivel from them.Their vocabulary doesn't rise much higher than stupid.`
vera charles December 09, 2012 at 06:33 PM
I hadn't read this thread for a few days, but it appears that a prior post by an author calling him/herself "North Fork Bob" has been deleted, either by Patch or by the author. A subsequent post by "North Fork Bob" claims that he was not the author of the earlier offensive post, and then objected to how he was characterized by follow-on posters, but if this "true" NFB followed his own claim, he would understand that any criticisms by follow-on posters were for someone writing that offensive comment under the name "North Fork Bob." If Patch is going to delete an offensive post, should't Patch also delete the follow-on posts that criticized the offensive post? That would be fair, and it also wouldn't leave follow-on posts appearing as if they came out of the blue for inexplicable reasons. Also, why does Patch allow two people to each post under the name "North Fork Bob"? Shouldn't Patch identities be limited to one person? Just a few thoughts for consideration.
2 Turn Tables December 09, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Vera, you're brilliant! Lets all get offended!
2 Turn Tables December 09, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Vera you're brilliant! Lets all get offended!
Heidi Hartten Izatt December 10, 2012 at 09:29 PM
i think long island should discuss putting in underground power lines it would be expensive at first BUT look at all the money that will be saved by not needing all the extra power crews along with all the over time thats paid out i live in NorthCarolina and we have underground power lines in my neighborhood i have lived in this neighborhood the past 14 yrs. and the power has only gone out twice and the longest it was out for was 8 hrs. all i can say is think about it i'm glad we have it!!!
BK13 December 10, 2012 at 09:48 PM
My 'beef' is that they took television antenna transmissions away. Now, in a power outage, how do you get any tv reception to watch the news? At least with the last blackout I used my battery powered mini-tv (remember the SONY Watchman?) and got updates on the news. Now we just have radio over the airwaves.
Halford December 11, 2012 at 12:17 AM
How many people even have TV antennas on their homes ?? How many people have battery operated TV sets ??? BK, earth calling....it's 2012
BK13 December 11, 2012 at 04:47 PM
LOL Halford, I think it's 2012. But I have been hit in the head a lot. Seriously, ANY television can add an antenna, radio shack used to sell them, just hook to the input jack. We got info during 9/11 from a TV in our office that picked up PBS-21. We watched the BBC feed from the UK. It was all we had. Be like a boy scout, prepare for all! Although I am guessing you probably don't have a generator either.

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