Senator Klein Announces Initiatives Responding to Hurricane Sandy Task Force Recommendations

PELHAM, NY - State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) joined local elected officials, law enforcement officials, community leaders and task force participants today to announce initiatives designed to respond to issues outlined by the Pelham Task Force on Hurricane Sandy last month. Village of Pelham Mayor Ed Hotchkiss, Village of Pelham Manor Mayor Jim O’Connor and Town of Pelham Supervisor Pete DiPaola, in addition to several of the Task Force participants stood with Senator Klein as they unveiled legislative recommendations and community initiatives designed to address issues with Con Edison facing residents following Hurricane Sandy.

Senator Klein proposed several initiatives on Saturday, including a Live Wire bill (S. 3783), which will require ConEd and other utility companies to shut off electrical current traveling through downed wires within 24 hours of receiving notice of an incident. Klein also announced the establishment of a local database of residents, maintained by the local police department, who are especially vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. Finally, Senator Klein and local officials discussed other legislative recommendations from the task force meeting to the Moreland Commission, including improving storm preparedness, infrastructure maintenance and moving electrical wires underground.

Senator Klein called the initiatives targeted and critical to mitigating damage from extreme weather in the future: “Today we are announcing concrete steps that will help to prevent many of the issues faced by residents in Pelham following the storm. Working together with local leaders, law enforcement and residents of Pelham, we have outlined ways to reduce emergency response time and protect the most vulnerable in our community. I am thankful to everyone who has participated in developing these proposals and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Albany to pass legislation that will bring relief to Sandy's victims and help cities and communities better prepare for future power outages and emergencies.”

Village of Pelham Mayor Hotchkiss praised the initiatives: “These proposals directly address issues faced by residents in our community. My chief priority is the safety of residents in Pelham and I believe that these initiatives do exactly that. The live wires bill will limit dangerous exposure to exposed wires and the vulnerable resident database will allow us to make sure that everyone in the area is safe and sound.”

Pelham Manor Mayor O’Connor, who personally faced issues of exposed live wires, highlighted how important these initiatives were to promoting safety in extreme weather. “I am proud that we have come together to come up with real solutions to actual problems our residents faced. I believe that with these measures we will be better prepared to respond to extreme weather in the future.”

Town Supervisor DiPaola highlighted the importance establishing a vulnerable resident database. “By maintaining a database of the most vulnerable members of our community, law enforcement will have the information necessary to ensure that all residents are out of harm’s way during storms and other emergencies. I encourage anyone and everyone who might require assistance during a storm to participate in this program.”

Police Chief Benefico outlined the importance of residents joining Vulnerable Resident Database: "I want to urge all residents to get the word out about our Vulnerable Resident Database. We are sending out the initial sign up sheet with instructions within the next few weeks so please look for the information in the mail. You can also call the Village police department as well as the Town Senior Advocates office."

Legislative recommendations from the Pelham Task Force meeting held last month were submitted to the Moreland Commission. The Moreland Commission was created to recommend legislative action to address problems with New York public utilities following Hurricane Sandy and is overseen by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Governor Cuomo’s establishment of the Moreland Commission after Hurricane Sandy marks the first time since the 1970’s that an investigative commission has been activated under the Moreland Act.