By: Brittany Garguilo and Ricky Soberano
Two hundred generators, 145,000 meals, 212,000 bottles of water, 209 water pumps and 2.5 million gallons of fuel are readily available for Long Islanders as hurricane season reaches its peak, according to Director of State Operations, Jim Malatras.
With Super Storm Sandy fresh in the mind of Long Islanders and Hurricane Joaquin in the rearview mirror, Commissioner Joseph Williams of Suffolk County Fire Rescue Emergency Services, said the community should be better prepared for the hurricane season.
“There is some concern there that luckily it made a turn but we don’t want people to feel complacent,” Williams said. “There is concern that people will think that will happen again next time and won’t be prepared for it.”
Andrew Seaman, a Marine and Atmospheric Science major on the oceanic studies track, said that there is a disconnect between the national and local media coverage of severe storms.
“A lot of times you see meteorologists posting all of these different predictions since Sandy, sensationalizing the situation. You see it happen in the private sector of media trying to get attention,” Seaman said. “On the national level, they don’t hype the storm up as much as they need to.”
But not taking storm threats seriously enough is exactly what Commissioner Joseph Williams of Suffolk County Fire Rescue Emergency Services is afraid of.
“A lot of people waited too long, or didn’t evacuate at all,” Williams said.
According, to Federal Emergency Management Agency, ten percent of the 948,540 households in Nassau and Suffolk counties at that time, experienced some flooding or storm damage. On Long Island, 182 structures were destroyed, 117 in Nassau and 65 in Suffolk.
“I think that many of the residents take these storms much more seriously now knowing the impact that Sandy had on our community,” Dan Giordano, superintendent of Lindenhurst schools who dedicated a bulk of his time to help out his school district after the storm in 2012, said. “We did meet as a district about how to prepare for Joaquin and our staff continuously gave me updates on the impact even though the storm tracked East.”
Lindenhurst was left with 180 unsalvageable homes and was one of the most severely damaged villages on Long Island.
“Since that devastating storm, there has been improvement in emergency preparedness tactics,” said Giordano.
Suffolk County Emergency Management has improved evacuation protocol with earlier evacuation times, 900 buses to evacuate individuals directly from their homes and four pet friendly shelters. They also do outreach programs to educate the public on hurricane preparedness 10 times a month.
“Our planning goes on all year long and we were very much prepared for Joaquin,” said Williams.
Al Trama, who lived in Blue Point at the time of the storm, had to be evacuated from his house a lost nearly everything in 2012.
“I never want to relive that moment of Hurricane Sandy,” Trama said while looking back and thinking ahead to future storms. “It’s definitely something you don’t want to go through in life.”