U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today provided a briefing on local federal efforts to prepare for Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy, set to hit the region by Monday. Schumer detailed plans of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA); the U.S. Coast Guard; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) to respond to the storm and clean up in its aftermath.
Schumer also called on the federal government to immediately get ready and be prepared for the state of New York to submit a full emergency disaster declaration after the storm hits and urged the President and FEMA to approve this without a delay. New York State has already submitted a pre-landfall disaster declaration request, which will provide federal funding for emergency protective services and will complement New York City and other municipalities’ own preparations for cleanup activities in the wake of the storm. New York State submitted its request on Saturday and Schumer urged the President and FEMA to approve it without delay.
“It appears all levels of government are acting in close coordination, which is critical in any emergency,” said Schumer. “This storm could well be the worst we’ve had in decades, so we all must be at the highest level of alert. I will continue to be in touch with federal agencies, to ensure they are provided the resources the city, state, and local governments need.”
Schumer was in close contact with a number of federal agencies early this morning. After speaking with NOAA, FEMA, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard and LIPA, Schumer briefed New Yorkers on how these agencies are preparing and plan to respond to the storm.
· The agency explained that this storm will be much like a Nor’easter. Wind levels will be very high and prolonged wind can create large amounts of damage. This may cause 9.5 feet storm surges in Battery Park City. This is 3 feet more than Irene. NOAA went on to say that Port Jefferson, on Long Island, may see 8-10 feet in storm surge.
· The agency said that there are 2 emergency preparedness centers for the region; one located at Republic Airport in Farmingdale Island and one in Colts Neck, New Jersey.
· 56,000 hot meals and 36,000 liters of water have already been sent for people who may not have access to meals and water.
· There are 100 people standing by that will take care of requests when an emergency disaster is declared.
· Upstate New York will have an emergency preparedness center in Oneida County.
Army Corps of Engineers
· Schumer noted that residents are worried that Long Island’s South Shore inlets, such as Fire Island, could be blocked up. The agency says they are prepared to dredge immediately to open them up. Dredging vessels are readily available in New York and could be taken to Long Island if necessary.
· Extra debris teams can be sent to the affected areas. Schumer explained that after Hurricane Irene, debris was not immediately removed from roads and power lines were found entangled on debris in the road. These extra crews will help with debris removal.
U.S. Coast Guard
· The U.S. Coast Guard explained that they are making sure the seas are safe. No ships will be allowed in and out of the New York Harbor after 6pm tonight. Cruise ships must leave the harbor before that time and ships will not be able to dock after that time.
· The agency will make sure no small boats are on the water. They are continuing to fly helicopters and warning boaters to get back to land.
· Station Fire Island has been evacuated and the families associated with this station have been evacuated.
· The agency requested additional helicopters to the area to help with any waterborne tragedies. The agency has been receiving support.
· Schumer noted that one problem is that this storm is expected to affect a large area. LIPA says they have requested additional utility crewmembers from various states, such as: Illinois, Wisconsin and California. Schumer noted that LIPA is doing everything they can to secure out of state crews, however, because this storm is so widespread it means that nearby utility crews may not be able to provide additional workers. There is a greater demand for workers because so many areas will be affected.
Schumer today also called on President Obama and FEMA Administrator Fugate to approve a statewide pre-landfall emergency declaration, which has been submitted by the State of New York, in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. Schumer is asking that the federal government be ready for the State of New York to submit a full emergency disaster declaration request immediately after the storm hits and urged the President and FEMA to approve it without delay. Schumer noted that the declaration would assure local governments that they will have the support of the federal government as they recover from this storm and federal resources should not be delayed. In a letter with Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, the Senators noted that New York has mobilized several state agencies, such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Schumer and Gillibrand explained that by approving a pre-landfall emergency declaration, New York State’s emergency responders and support agencies would have access to funding to support Category B (emergency protective measures) activities.
A statewide pre-landfall emergency declaration for New York State would allow the state access to FEMA funds to cover emergency protective measures. These are activities undertaken by a community before, during, and following a disaster that are necessary to eliminate or reduce an immediate threat to human life, public health, or safety. Funding can also be applied to activities intended to eliminate or reduce an immediate threat of significant damage to improved public or private property through cost-effective measures. Some examples of activities that may be eligible include warning of risks and hazards, search and rescue operations, and emergency evacuations.
Last year, in preparation for Hurricane Irene, Schumer called on President and FEMA to approve New York’s request for a pre-landfall emergency disaster declaration. Hurricane Irene brought a storm surge of 3-6 feet to the New York area and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage in New York City and Long Island. In New York City, there were approximately 370,000 evacuations and over 700,000 power outages throughout the entire state.
A copy of Schumer and Gillibrand’s letter can be found below:
October 28, 2012
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
The Honorable Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20472
Dear President Obama and Administrator Fugate:
As you know, Hurricane Sandy is currently making its way up the Eastern seaboard and is expected to reach New York State within the next few days. Given the anticipated impact of this Category I hurricane, coupled with a powerful Nor’easter inching closer from the west, we write to express our support for the statewide pre-landfall emergency declaration submitted by the State of New York.
New York has mobilized several state agencies in advance of what could become a record-breaking storm. For example, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is evaluating its three transit systems to inspect and clear drains, pump rooms, and flood-prone areas in order to ensure operational efficiency. Additionally, the State’s Department of Environmental Conservation is working closely with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to lower the water levels in the Schoharie and Ashokan reservoirs to prevent flooding in Schoharie and the Catskills. Furthermore, the New York State Police have implemented internal agency disaster preparedness plans for Hurricane Sandy, making troops ready for assignment as needed. As you can see, New York is preparing itself in a methodical manner, maximizing its resources like few other states can.
As you know, approving a pre-landfall emergency declaration means New York State’s emergency responders and support agencies will have access to funding to support Category B (emergency protective measures) activities. Federal assistance will perfectly complement New York’s own pre-disaster preparations, and will help ensure New York is able to keep moving forward and keep its residents safe.
New York State’s emergency management teams have performed admirably in the past and have obviously prepared well for this storm, and we respectfully urge you to approve this very important request.
Thank you for your consideration. Please contact our offices if you have any questions or need additional information.
Charles E. Schumer Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senator United States Senator
(YWN Desk – NYC)