Two of four panels created by Governor Andrew Cuomo examining different aspects of disaster preparedness have delivered a short list of preliminary recommendations to the state executive’s desk. And we’re turning to you, who saw the disaster response first-hand, how the government can do better in the future.
Of the four panels, the two that provided preliminary recommendations that may be included in Cuomo’s State of the State speech next week is one to ensure infrastructure, systems and services would be prepared for future emergencies, and the other examined the state’s ability to respond to future disasters.
Some of the recommendations are:
- Create a strategic fuel reserve
- Require gas stations to install generators
- Update building codes
- Develop emergency training for local officials
- Develop databases tracking vulnerable residents including the elderly and disabled
- Train National Guard soldiers to assist with power restoration
- Stockpile emergency equipment and supplies
- Expand use of text messaging to communicate emergency messages from the government
These recommendations, of course, are just the start, and will be expanded and evaluated more fully down the road. But, on the surface, some appear to be pragmatic solutions – like updating building codes – while others seem outright impractical or unlikely to help in a real-world disaster, such as the database of vulnerable residents.
But you lived through the storm, and saw first-hand what many of these experts and leaders didn’t – a full accounting of what worked, what didn’t work, and what more needs to be done.
So share your insight here: what are your suggestions for better disaster response in the future?
According to a report by YouGov.com, a research and consulting organization, 64 percent of Americans are woefully unprepared for a major natural disaster, even after the events of Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and a series of other major natural disasters smacking us around in recent years.
The report finds that people making disaster-readiness plans has slightly increased from 31 percent to 36 percent since 2011, showing that the majority of Americans have failed to adequately prepare themselves in the event of another major disaster. This is the breakdown of YouGov’s numbers,
Of the 36 percent who said they were equipped for natural disasters, their preparations included the following:
- Emergency supplies (for example, flashlights or first-aid kits): 89 percent
- Food stocks: 74 percent
- Creating an evacuation or an emergency plan: 50 percent
- Disaster insurance: 22 percent
Of the 89 percent who had emergency supplies, their supplies included the following:
- Flashlights: 97 percent
- Water: 92 percent
- First-aid kits or medicine: 92 percent
- Sleeping bags or blankets: 83 percent
- Face masks: 18 percent
- Iodine pills: 15 percent
While general preparedness is low, concern and fear over another natural disaster has increased, especially across the Northeast, where 31 percent report that they are “very concerned” following Hurricane Sand, doubled from the previous year’s report of 17 percent concern in polling done after Tropical Storm Irene, the highest percentage in the country.
A lot of people have prognosticated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that this was finally the storm that got everyone’s attention, and that in the future, people will be more prepared for the advent of another natural catastrophe. I’m not so sure. While Sandy’s devastation was massive and destabilizing, only time will tell how New Yorkers will prepare and respond, both personally, and politically, should another superstorm come to wreck our city.