As hurricane season begins, City Council gets ready for next big storm
Tropical storm Andrea already moving north
After holding almost a dozen public hearings about the city’s response to Superstorm Sandy, the New York City Council on Wednesday announced ten new bills to better prepare for the next big storm -– which could happen any day now, according to the National Weather Service.
Hurricane season commenced June 1, and NOAA predicts an above average number of storms this year. Already, tropical storm Andrea is drenching Florida, and long-range projections show it possibly blowing east of Long Island in a few days, causing storm surge in Brooklyn of two feet or more.
One proposed Council bill would require the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to develop a plan for tracking the location and medical needs of people admitted to special “medical needs” shelters.
Another bills would require better organization of food and water distribution, back-up power for roadways, alternative transportation options including bus and ferry service, and a plan to ensure adequate fuel supply. OEM would also be required to create a recovery plan for small businesses.
“These bills address key issues that are vital to protecting New Yorkers,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement.
“There were a lot of lessons learned during Superstorm Sandy about ways that we as a city can better prepare for future natural disasters and protect New Yorkers,” said Councilmember Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., Chair of the Council’s Finance Committee. “The bills proposed today are a result of thoughtful consideration and evaluation of what we did right and what we can do better in the case of future disasters.”
Some of the Council’s bills echo the 59 recommendations made in May in a separate “Hurricane Sandy After Action” report ordered by Mayor Bloomberg.
Among the recommendations made in the Mayor’s report were improved evacuation procedures, including updated evacuation zones, and additional capacity to respond to large-scale building inundation and loss of power.
Other recommendations in the Mayor’s report include better coordination of relief to homebound populations, including more efficient deployment of volunteers; and the development of a mid- to long-term housing plan for displaced residents.
The Office of Emergency Management had no comment about the Council’s bills. “We do not comment on specific bills before they come to a hearing,” OEM spokesperson Christopher Miller told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday. “The Mayor’s After Action plan, released after three months of intensive work by city agencies, identified areas for updates and changes to storm response and many of the council’s proposals mirror those proposals.”
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