Hurricane was “Wake Up Call” to the Whole Community

10 Dec, 2012

By Polly Kreisman

Town Supervisor Nancy Seligson speaks to League of Women Voters conference. To her right is Mamaroneck Town Admin. Steve Altieri, at left local LWV President Elisabeth Radow


At a local League of Women Voters gathering Friday, area leaders were able to describe the local response to Hurricane Sandy from their viewpoint, nearly six weeks after the fact.


“This was a wake up call to the whole community that we are vulnerable to a Hurricane,” Mamaroneck Town Administrator Steve Altieri said. Nancy Seligson, the Town Supervisor, described ten-plus days of governing from the Emergency Operations Center at the Town Fire House as “round the clock triage.”


“The upsetting part, of course, is that it took a long time to get people their power back, and people were going a little crazy,” she added to those gathered at the Nautilus Diner.


It cost the Town $228,000 to clean up after Sandy. Officials are looking at ways to stretch the remaining budget and still have a budget surplus,  given the 2 percent tax cap, and the Town’s desire to retain its AAA Rating.


Seligson described the confusion brought on by Con Ed crews giving people the wrong information, or no information at all. “Their folks on the ground were clearly winging it,” she said.


Hearing some numbers recited recalled the severity of the situation: 27 houses in the Town had trees smash through their rooves; over 200 phone calls and 350 emails had to be answered from citizens reporting problems.


In the Village of Larchmont, said Mayor Anne McAndrews, “We were terrified by the number of people crossing police tape, some with children and strollers, to check out the waves!”


Next time, she said, people must assume that power lines on the ground are live, for their own safety.


Another dangerous situation arose from the use of generators. Fire Departments received record numbers of calls from people reporting CO2 exhaust in their homes, the result of running gasoline powered generators too close to a window. “Many of these situations were live,” McAndrews reported, meaning they posed a real danger the Department had to address.


 
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