Port Washington North Starts Planning for The Next Big Storm

Lessons from Sandy.

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during the storm was the inability of volunteers to work efficiently in restoring power because they were using outdated electrical maps.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.”

R Miller November 19, 2012 at 02:38 PM
I would like to praise the village on a great job in the clean up process. I saw Mr. Novinsky with the crews from Cow Bay who were all true professionals. They opened the village and cleaned up the debris in short time. As for preparing for the future that is true leadership. Take every even and improve on it. I wish the state and the federal government work like this. Everyone one here should be proud it was a true team effort.
jonathan winant November 19, 2012 at 02:53 PM
We all learned some very valuable lessons from the poor handeling of the aftermath of tropical storm Sandy. My concern is how what local municipalities and villages learned can be carried over to the larger Towns and Counties. Maybe it is time for more government agencies to over ride certain procedures and communications when utiitiy companies prove to be unable to execute restorations and repairs in anywhere near a timely manner and fail to be able to commuicate with those who can offer vital information. My deepest appreciation to PWMOEM and Peter Forman and others like him who helped to close the poor information gap created by others such as LIPA. Peters information picked up when Cablevision went out in our area and newspapers were hard to find.
Bob November 19, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Peter Forman, the PWMOEM and Village officials were primary sources of info while we were all left in the dark and cold. Thanks to all for the information and helping us keep our sanity. Before negotiating a bulk order for generators, it would be helpful if the village could have an information meeting to discuss what options residents have to better cope with future storms. This could include the benefits and costs of a range of different size generators, independent electrical connections to generators vs wired into the existing electric service, conversion from oil to gas for heating, hot water and cooking, etc.
jonathan winant November 19, 2012 at 10:32 PM
PW North needs to synnc with the other areas of the Peninsula and coordinate a group effort for handeling such emergencies. There needs to be a uniform effort which could offer far better services then the County or ToNH offers in emergencies such as what we recently went through. When it comes to LIPA our Penninsula needs to have one contact at each utility and Cablevision so that local reps have somewhere to share pertinent information. This is more important after learning that KLIPA computers still use COBOL to communicate (No one else uses such an out date computer program).


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