September 4, 2011

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Ball says we were not prepared enough to take on Hurricane Irene

Ball wants Senate hearing into the utilities handling
of Irene recovery

PUTNAM VALLEY – A number of local Putnam and Northern Westchester County officials and Senator Gregory Ball (R-Patterson), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, criticized NYSEG for its communications efforts during Hurricane Irene.

Yorktown Councilman Nicholas Bianco said an investigation into the utility companies was needed to provide constructive criticism. “I believe they did not prepare well,” he said. “We need to find out what went wrong, and determine how we can improve it.”

Putnam Valley Councilwoman Wendy Whetsel said the state needs to “revamp our communication so people are much more confident with what’s going on, so they see an end in sight.” She said there are “better ways of keeping our residents informed.”

Carmel Town Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt said out-of-state utility crews brought in to restore power “should’ve been in state when the storm hit.” He also suggested gas-powered message boards should be used to communicate with the public rather than the Internet, which families couldn’t be accessed by people without power.

Ball also said the dry ice provided “was a drop in the bucket compared to what was needed.”

Ball called for a Senate hearing to “drill down into response management and communications failures and shortfalls following Hurricane Irene.”

NYSEG on Saturday evening said all but 300 of its customers in its Brewster division have had their electricity restored. All customers in its Liberty division have their lights back on.

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