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Councilmembers Set to Introduce Bills For Better Storm Planning After Sandy

By Nicholas Rizzi | June 6, 2013 12:56pm
 Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a series of bills that will aim to make the city better prepared to deal with natural disasters.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a series of bills that will aim to make the city better prepared to deal with natural disasters.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

NEW YORK CITY — A group of City Council members plan to introduce a set of bills aimed to make the city better prepared for storms and natural disasters in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced Wednesday that 10 different bills are set to be introduced later this month to make the city better prepared to handle natural disasters, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The bills come after 11 post-Sandy council hearings, during which they identified two main problems with the city’s handling after the storm: its struggle to help the most vulnerable citizens and to keep transportation going even when the subways were knocked out.

Among the suggested measures are backup power supplies for traffic lights, alternative transportation options and a fuel-management program that would help in the event of a shortage.

"There were many reports that people were stuck in buildings without water, food and heat," Quinn told the Journal.

"It took the city, everyone would admit, longer than it should to locate them, get them out of where they were or get them the resources they need."

The bills were co-sponsored by council members from Staten Island, including Debi Rose, whose legislation would deal with traffic management after the disasters.

"With hindsight being 20/20, we continue to find more areas of our city that we must prepare in the event of not just another superstorm, but any emergency," Rose said in a statement.

Under Rose’s bill, the city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will develop and implement a plan to make the transportation network work as best it can during times of crisis.

The bill will require the city to install backup power for traffic and streetlights, and develop alternative transportation options during a crisis — including bus and ferry service.

“Some of the biggest problems Staten Islanders and other residents of this City faced in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and other recent disasters were loss of power, unavailability of fuel, inadequate and ill-prepared shelters, traffic and transportation disarray, and inability to provide basic necessities to affected areas,” Rose said.

Under the bills, the city will also create a task force that will make sure every vulnerable or homebound resident is personally visited after the storm, the WSJ reported.

Another would create a fuel-management plan that would give first responders priority for available gas, which was nearly impossible to come by for some drivers after the storm.

Quinn also wants to detail the roles of public, private and non-profit sectors who distributed food and water after disasters, the Journal reported.

Rose said that the city can not guarantee whether another disaster like Sandy will happen again, but the bills will help them become better prepared.

“We cannot guarantee that a disaster such as this will never occur again, but we are here to ensure that this city will be better prepared to respond,” she said.