Like many other Rockland residents, I was happy to see my weather app finally forecasting an end to the excessive heat, humidity, and frequent threat of thunderstorms we have endured over the past few weeks. That sense of relief was only fleeting, as an email headline in my inbox, referencing resilient infrastructure, quickly reminded me that we are still in the middle of hurricane season here on the Atlantic coast.
We’ve been lucky so far this year, but we aren’t that far removed from the widespread power outages, wind damage, and flooding from what Hurricane Isaias threw our way in 2020. The following year of 2021 lacked a storm of that magnitude in our backyards, but we still had 17,000 households without power in the region from Ida’s venture through the area in September and 9,000 from Tropical Storm Elsa in July. Prior to those storms, and certainly since then, the Town of Clarkstown has been working diligently in cooperation with our utility providers, our first responders and other levels of government to improve storm preparations and response measures for our residents.
Along with the other Town Supervisors, I was part of numerous meetings and calls demanding increased preparation and greater resources from our utility providers. In response, we have seen several storm hardening projects designed to increase the reliability of our power delivery and communication networks.These included the undergrounding of utilities on the causeway and several other locations that O&R deemed important. In addition, the Town of Clarkstown has undertaken several flood mitigation and stormwater management control projects, including a massive overhaul of the West Nyack hamlet’s drainage and the Klein Avenue Levee Improvement project. These projects are already helping to protect that neighborhood which was prone to flooding for the past century. But at the end of the day, there’s no way to ever fully mitigate the potentially destructive power of Mother Nature. That’s why making sure you’re on top of your own personal storm preparation game is as important as ever. Fortunately, the steps to protecting yourself are relatively simple and straightforward. Save the phone numbers to report power outages and downed power lines in your phone or download the O&R utility application. Do the same for your cable and internet providers. Consider investing in a generator and follow all the safety guidelines that come with it. Build an emergency kit that is kept in a spot that can be easily reached. Stock up on batteries for flashlights, portable radios and other devices. Keep an emergency supply of water and nonperishable food on hand. Have a family plan in place that includes an emergency meet up location. Plan ahead for the potential need for cash, gas up your vehicles, and charge all your electronic devices.
Residents with limited mobility or special needs which might impact a timely response during an emergency, should also register for the County of Rockland’s ‘Access and Functional Needs Registry’. The registry alerts emergency first responders so they are prepared for your special
needs in advance of their response. If you believe you, or someone you care for, is unable to independently act upon emergency protective orders, please register at www.rocklandregisters.com. When a major storm is forecast the Clarkstown Police Department prepares to activate the Emergency Operations Center. The EOC is staffed with key personnel from the Clarkstown Police and Highway Department, my office and a representative from Orange and Rockland Utilities and other agencies. This creates a centralized command post for communication to
ensure more efficient storm response.
The town has acquired generators and other equipment to power key traffic lights that are knocked off line during a storm. The Town’s four community centers have generators in the event of power outages and can be used as charging stations for residents. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast a range of 14-21 named storms for this season but you can rest assured that no matter what this hurricane season might bring, the Town of Clarkstown is prepared.
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