After Sandy, City Council pushes forward bills to better prepare city for storms

A firefighter works to contain a fire that destroyed over 50 homes during Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point, Queens. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A firefighter works to contain a fire that destroyed over 50 homes during Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point, Queens.
Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

After Superstorm Sandy, the City Council Public Safety committee approved a package of nine bills that would help the city prepare for future storms and other emergencies.

“Sandy was an unprecedented storm–unlike any we’ve ever seen–but we only get to say that once,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement.

The legislation would require the Office of Emergency Management to develop plans around food and water distribution, shelter and outreach to vulnerable New Yorkers who might not evacuate during emergencies.

Other bills would mandate OEM create plans to track New Yorkers with special needs and help in the recovery of small businesses.

Nancy Ploeger, president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, applauded the council’s legislation.

“We all experienced our first major weather-related disaster with Hurricane Sandy and grappled with the wide-spread challenges of finding information to impart to the small business community,” Ploeger said in a letter to the council.

The bills were drafted following 12 oversight hearings held over several months post-Sandy that helped the city identify problems with its response during the storm.

Part of the legislation would require nonprofits and private companies coordinate with the city when distributing food and water after an emergency.

“In the hours immediately following Sandy, it was local organizations and churches, such as Crossroads Church in my district and others, that were out in the affected communities providing food and water to those in desperate need,” minority leader James Oddo, who represents parts of Staten Island.

One bill mandates the city create a plan to manage transportation problems, like flooded streets and subway stations, and requires the installation of a back-up power system to ensure roadways are usable. Another bill would establish guidelines for fuel rationing and ensure recovery and clean-up efforts get fuel priority.

The legislation would also establish community recovery directors and deputies for impacted areas.

If the bills pass, OEM has to submit copies of the new storm plans to the City Council.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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