Rockaway Beach, Queens – Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Rockaway Beach) Commissioner Joe Esposito and his team from New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM), together with over a dozen other city and state government agencies, non-profits, elected officials and local civic association, joined in a roundtable conference to discuss emergency storm preparedness ahead of the upcoming Hurricane season. The full-day event, the third and most comprehensive gathering in a series of roundtables organized by Goldfeder and the city agency, provided an open discussion into best practices and strategies in the wake of the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“We have learned many lessons from Sandy in how we as a community can better prepare for future storms,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “These discussions are a way for us to come together and share our experiences to learn from mistakes, reinforce what worked, and ultimately better prepare our families and our city. I want to thank Commissioner Joseph Esposito and his team for their partnership in organizing this latest roundtable and for their tireless work to keep our families safe, both during major disasters and each and every day.”
“Every New Yorker should be prepared for hurricane season and should have a plan for what to do before a storm approaches,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “We hope that these important community discussions help New Yorkers to know what to do to keep themselves and their families safe if a storm threatens New York City.”
Assemblyman Goldfeder and Commissioner Esposito, joined by staff from various departments at NYCEM, led the discussion with representatives from city and state agencies including NYC Transit, NYC Department of Transportation, NYC Department of Education, NYC Department of Homeless Services, FDNY, City Hall and the MTA. Among the local civic organizations were representatives from the Breezy Point Cooperative, Belle Harbor Property Owners Association, New Hamilton Beach Civic Association, Howard-Beach Lindenwood Civic and Community Boards 10 and 14. Representative from the Red Cross of Greater NY was also in attendance. The full-day roundtable conference was held on July 7th at the Knights of Columbus Rockaway Council #2672, a central location during Sandy recovery and a regular meeting location for Community Board 14 and numerous local civic associations.
Expanding on the previous roundtables held by Goldfeder and NYCEM in Broad Channel, the conference was divided into five sessions with an expert presentation and group discussion on the following topics: General Population Evacuation, Healthcare Facilities Evacuation, Sheltering, Field Operations, and Community Recovery. Each session gave those present the opportunity to openly share in the experiences of Superstorm Sandy and emphasize best practices during future storms. The city and state agencies present also spoke of improvements to emergency preparedness and communication, including NYCEM’s improved social media presence and ongoing Ready NY campaign to address local civic organizations across the city and brief communities on emergency procedures.
The meeting also gave both Goldfeder and NYCEM the chance to tout recent improvements to storm preparedness in southern Queens and Rockaway. This spring, together with the support of Commissioner Esposito and NYCEM, the Department of Transportation dispatched crews to complete the task of updating the City’s coastal storm evacuation route signage. The work, which Goldfeder had requested, coincided with NYCEM’s ongoing “Know Your Zone” hurricane awareness campaign, which aims to encourage New Yorkers to find out whether they live in a hurricane evacuation zone, and take steps to plan ahead.
One major development from the discussion was an agreement to include representatives from local utility companies in the next roundtable, to be held at a later date. The local civic organizations encouraged the move, citing the need to discuss how to reinforce telecommunications and electrical infrastructure ahead of future storms. Overall, those in attendance praised the event as productive, citing the importance of maintaining a regular dialogue as key to the community’s emergency preparedness.
“I think it only benefits all of us when the city agencies are not only willing to listen to what the community’s wants and needs are, but to also work with us to see how those wants and needs could be met. These roundtables provide vital information which could be essential in the event of any future disaster. I want to thank Assemblyman Goldfeder and Commissioner Esposito and all those who attended this meeting,” said Roger Gendron, President of the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association.
“It’s so important to collaborate and learn from experiences so that we can fine-tune plans for dealing with future situations. We look forward to continuing this valuable collaboration with Assemblyman Goldfeder and Emergency Management,” said Hank Iori, President of the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association.