From Westchester County: Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino joined Gov. Cuomo and Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand Wed. on a helicopter tour of Westchester and New York City to continue to assess the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy.
The regional flyover included a bird’s-eye view of Westchester County, where substantial storm damage and power outages were caused by Sandy’s ferocious winds. The federal officials saw flood-damaged areas along the Long Island Sound and communities littered with fallen trees.
“The devastation is widespread, especially on Long Island and in Breezy Point, Queens,” Astorino said after the helicopter tour. “While other communities suffered more substantial flood damage, Westchester was hardest hit by downed trees that are blocking hundreds of streets in our county.”
Astorino has spoken personally with Con Edison CEO Kevin Burke and NYSEG CEO Mark Lynch about the recovery effort that is underway in Westchester.
“Our biggest priority is working with Con Edison and NYSEG to get power restored and to assist our municipalities in removing the fallen trees,” Astorino said.
Astorino also said he received assurances that Westchester is getting a full complement of resources from the utilities.
“We have been assured that Con Edison is not diverting any resources from Westchester to New York City or other parts of the region. We will hold the company to its promise,” he said.
Con Edison and NYSEG officials told Astorino that critical substations and transmission lines were damaged by the storm. Repairs to those must be completed in order to permit Westchester homes and businesses to have power restored.
An immediate priority, Astorino said, had been getting power restored to several hospitals, more than a dozen nursing homes, and other critical-care facilities that were operating on generators.
Con Edison reported that about 176,000 customers were without power on Wednesday – down from about 183,000 a day earlier. NYSEG reported 31,555 customers without power in the county – a drop of a few hundred from the day before.
Astorino also met with FEMA officials on Wednesday to begin the effort to obtain federal reimbursement for the costs of the storm. He said the county is coordinating the effort to document the costs of the storm to the county and its municipalities.
In order to qualify for FEMA funding, Westchester must document about $3.2 million in storm damage. New York State requires about $25 million in damages.
“There’s no doubt we will be able to meet that threshold for a disaster declaration,” Astorino said. “We are working with our municipal partners to assemble the information we need.”
Astorino noted that the county’s Emergency Operations Center was still fully activated around-the-clock to assist communities trying to recover from the storm. Daily conference calls with all municipalities continue to be held to share information and determine what resources each community needs.
The county executive urged parents to exercise common sense and caution this Halloween night, saying some neighborhoods might have too many hazards to ensure their children’s safety.
See www.westchestergov.com for updated developments.