NYC Council airs proposals to handle storms better

Backup power for traffic lights among NYC Council proposals to improve storm response

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- After months of mulling New York City's response to Superstorm Sandy, lawmakers proposed Wednesday to require backup generators for traffic lights, a system to track everyone in shelters for people with medical problems and other changes in emergency response.

The City Council proposals also include planning for emergency bus and ferry service if subways go down, preparing to run shelters for long-term stays and planning to go door to door to find homebound people who need help. Other measures would call on the city administration to come up with plans to deal with post-storm fuel shortages and to help small businesses bounce back from disasters.

"These bills address key issues that are vital to protecting New Yorkers," Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement.

The Oct. 29 storm unleashed the worst flooding in recent memory on the nation's biggest city, killing 43 people, damaging or destroying thousands of homes and cutting off power to an estimated 1 million people.

The city helped distribute 2 million ready-to-eat meals and 1 billion bottles of water, picked up tons of debris and got generators from as far away as Texas to provide temporary power to public-housing buildings, among other relief efforts, officials have said. Longer-term rebuilding initiatives included a "Rapid Repairs" program fixed wiring, installed boilers and did other basic work to make more than 20,000 houses and apartments habitable.

The council's proposals, derived from testimony from more than 100 people at 11 hearings this year, "are a result of thoughtful consideration and evaluation of what we did right and what we can do better," said City Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr., whose district includes Coney Island and some other heavily flooded parts of Brooklyn.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office declined to comment on the measures until there's a hearing. Some of the ideas are similar to his administration's own recommendations in a recent report, which also advises such measures as buying more police boats, getting more fuel trucks, working with companies to extend cellphone towers' backup power and changing evacuation zones and messages in hopes of getting more people to leave when ordered to go.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced an electronic tracking system, using barcode wristbands, for patients evacuated from state hospitals and nursing homes.

View Comments (9)