By County Executive Ed Day
It’s been said that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. This year it’s more true than usual. Rockland has been pounded with three serious nor’easters over the last two weeks. These storms have brought to light deficiencies in the coordination and response strategies of our local utilities.
I spent much of these storms visiting various locations throughout the county reported to have power out, particularly those caused by downed trees where power restoration was being delayed because of that. Part of effectively managing crisis is to bring in decision makers who can then see the urgency for action, not to just wait for things to happen, then get it done.
My gratitude to New York State Director of Operations Cathy Calhoun and other members of the Governor’s staff who helped secure the deployment of the National Guard to Rockland. The primary mission of the Guard was to assist with the removal of downed trees, their efforts were coordinated by the Rockland County Office of Fire and Emergency Services.
Now that cleanup and power restoration is nearly complete we are going to address the concerns many of you have shared with me directly. Why did it take our utility companies so long to get power restored after these storms?
I have already spoken to Robert Sanchez, CEO and President, of Orange & Rockland Utilities. There is complete agreement and an understanding that they will engage in a post event analysis of their response and the dynamics of what occurred these last weeks. Once that analysis is accomplished, near term, I will spearhead a meeting with representatives of all the Villages and Towns with O&R that will include all your concerns and responses.
I ask that you, the people of Rockland, reach out to your town supervisors and village mayors so that they can bring your concerns and experiences to this meeting. The goal now is to continue working collaboratively to identify any and all strategies that can improve storm response.
Unlike others, we are interested in working together to improve operations and coordination not just playing the blame game. I also want to specifically thank the members of the National Guard who came to Rockland to help; as well as the utility linemen; county and town employees; first responders and union members who all stepped up to help when our residents were in need.
I leave you with this, we will identify any and all strategies to address the challenges of future storms. We will move forward with deliberate resolve!