Port Washington North officials are examining the lessons learned during and after Sandy. That way they can plan for managing the consequences of future storms on the village.
During Tuesday's Board of Trustee meeting at Port Washington North's Village Hall, Mayor Robert Weitzner said trustees must focus on meeting the challenges of the next big storm. One suggestion was to “get off the grid” during and after emergency situations. The mayor proposed that the village develop guidelines for the safe use and placement of generators and perhaps negotiate a bulk purchase on behalf of village residents.
The other major suggestion was to improve communication to residents by designating one person in the village to speak regularly with LIPA and by soliciting volunteers to serve as community captains who would maintain contact with the LIPA liaison and their neighbors.
The trustees emphasized that village residents must be made aware that the Port Washington Office of Emergency Management headed by Commissioner Peter Forman remains in close communication and engages in consultation with village mayors during emergencies, and that they should register for updates at northshorealert.orgResidents should also know that they have access to Town of North Hempstead's 311 line.
Also on the list of suggestions was obtaining up-to-date information from LIPA as to the locations of energy substations and active power lines servicing the village. One of the major problems throughout the peninsula during the storm was the inability of volunteers to work efficiently in restoring power because they were using outdated electrical maps. Village Commissioner of Emergency Management Steve Kaplan said that when he communicated with LIPA, “I was feeding them information rather than the other way around”.
“We must make Albany aware that they need to address LIPA'S deficiencies,” Trustee Michael Schenkler noted. He pointed out that LIPA'S communication systems, management procedures and infrastructure are all in need of major repair and modernization.
Commissioner of Public Works Ronald Novinsky will also be examining the pruning and maintenance of trees that are close to power lines.
The trustees emphasized that with FEMA’S assistance and the existing fund balance the village will remain fiscally healthy in spite of the expense of the clean-up.
Weitzner praised the work of Kaplan, Novinsky and Palma Torrisi Village Clerk
“Ronnie [Novinsky] was out there on Tuesday morning clearing trees," Weitzner said. "He was everywhere, working constantly. Steve Kaplan set up remote communication enabling him to communicate with LIPA and village trustees. Palma managed to man the Village Hall which lacked electricity, heat and phones in order to provide residents who came by with updated information.”