TOWN OF HUNTINGTON
Learning Lessons From A Superstorm
Police acquire Humvees, municipalities
developing emergency plans, Grid using tablets
By Mike Koehler/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Superstorm Sandy ravaged Long Island in late October, leaving more than
a million in the dark and stranded with debris strewn about roadways.
The region was still recovering seven months later as the 2013 hurricane
season began on June 1. Long Island even saw 5 inches of rain fall less
than a week in from the remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea on Friday.
Although no major damage was reported, flooding was an issue, Suffolk
County police said. Assistant Chief of Patrol Stuart Cameron said their
patrol cars had trouble navigating deep waters.
They faced similar challenges during Sandy, and later, when 2 feet of
snow fell during the February blizzard.
We ended up utilizing military vehicles from the National Guard.
It takes some time to mobilize resources like that. It requires a request
go up to Albany and disasters unfold rapidly, Cameron said.
After the disasters ended, police began the process of acquiring surplus
military vehicles. The federal government released three Humvees to the
department at no charge; they arrived on June 5. Cameron said they are
waiting to see what impact those three have before requesting additional
vehicles or equipment.
Suffolk Countys officers did a great job during the historic superstorm,
the chief said, although Sandy created layers upon layers of problems
to solve. The storm surge washed into communities, trees came down, downed
lines and damaged transformers left 1.1 million powerless, traffic lights
were not functioning and massive lines formed at gas stations across Long
In the aftermath of Sandy, police eventually replaced officers directing
traffic with generators connected to traffic lights at key intersections.
Cameron said that will be included in a formal plan currently underway,
as well as a list of gas stations with generators or in important locations.
Hopefully if theres some type of severe weather event, well
be in a better shape to respond, the chief said.
Suffolk County Legislator Steven Stern (D-Dix Hills) confirmed Fire, Rescue
and Emergency Services (FRES) personnel were identifying gas stations
with generators. He hoped that station owners would take advantage of
state-offered incentives to purchase expensive generators.
Stern said the county is also working on two initiatives to protect the
countys most vulnerable residents. The Joint Emergency Evacuation
Plan (JEEP) program combines FRES and local law enforcements in identifying
who would need help. The Protect Our Most Vulnerable act would require
health care facilities to file evacuation plans with the county so patients
and residents can be rescued appropriately.
The legislator added that the countys Department of Public Works
is still examining and working on possible vulnerabilities to the countys
infrastructure and assets.
LIPA Communications Director Mark Gross confirmed National Grid has updated
its operations and communications procedures. Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd
said that includes more press conferences to share information, more local
calls with municipal leaders, using emails to reach customers, using tablets
to collect data in the field, and working with municipalities on road-clearing
protocols. PSE&G will continue this work when they take over running
power plants from National Grid next year.
In Huntington, Dix Hills and Commack were two of the areas worst hit by
Sandy. However, Dix Hills Fire Chief Tom Magno and Commack Fire Chief
Peter Paccione said no changes have been made to their strategies.
Its kind of tough to be prepared 100 percent for a storm like
Sandy. Its a storm weve never had before, Magno said.
However, the Sandy experience, Paccione said, keeps the chief and his
firefighters more alert.
Halesite Fire Chief Dan McConnell said Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 helped
prepare his department for Sandy. That included buying more chainsaws
and a new truck designed to traverse deep water.
When we were configuring a new truck, we configured it to be ideal
during hurricanes. We took delivery of that truck before Sandy and it
proved to be invaluable, he said.
Town of Huntington spokesman A.J. Carter confirmed the town formed the
Hurricane Sandy Emergency Review Task Force in February and is expected
to release a draft report in the near future. Highway Superintendent William
Naughton said his department is involved.
Suffolk County police acquired these three humvees
last week in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.