YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Hurricane Irene had been reduced to a tropical storm by the time it rolled into Yorktown last year, but the storm still packed a punch that left thousands without power and forced the town take a look at its emergency management plan.
"We are certainly changing our way of doing business," said Town Supervisor Michael Grace. "We’ve had quite a few emergency management meetings, and part of that is getting emergency management plans in those communities that were particularly hard-hit."
Grace said the town has specifically been working with retirement facilities such as Beaver Ridge and Jefferson Valley. Council member Terrence Murphy is looking to avoid a repeat of the August 2011 storm, when some Beaver Ridge residents were stuck on the second floor after power was knocked out.
"That was completely unacceptable what happened over there," Murphy said. "We’ve been in contact with the owner of the building. We’ve mandated that he needs a generator for exit signs and the elevator."
As far as cleanup of fallen trees and branches, Grace and Murphy said they have not heard any specific complaints and commended the Highway Department on the job.
"I understand people wanted their brush moved, but we moved as fast as we could," Murphy said. "And I think the town employees ought to be commended for the job that they did and how they handled themselves."
Consolidated Edison and New York State Electric and Gas have been working with municipalities on improving response time to power outages, but Grace said he wants Yorktown to be able to deal with the problems in-house.
"We’re trying to put in plans of our own so that we have a certain buffer against their ability or inability to get things done," Grace said. "We don’t want to be relying on them to get power back.”
New York shelled out more than $574 million in state aid following Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, and Grace said Yorktown just received its first payments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He said the town requested between $200,000 and $300,000 and received around $113,000. Grace said he is "fairly confident" the rest of the money will be awarded.