What Local Community Emergency
Preparedness Means Panel Discussion
By Nina Recio
One year ago Hurricane Ida landed with brute force on our shoreline and caused immense damage to the community. On the first anniversary of that event, the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit invited local officials from each municipality with direct responsibility for community and local emergency services to speak about emergency preparedness. The invited officials were Village Manager, Jerry Barberio, from the Village of Mamaroneck; Village Administrator, Justin Datino, from the Village of Larchmont; and Town Administrator, Meredith Robson, from the Town of Mamaroneck.
Kicking off the September 13 discussion, Administrator Robson described how primary responsibility for dealing with the emergency falls upon the local municipalities. The local municipalities, in turn and as needed, can seek assistance from the county, state and federal governments. Also, she explained, there are mutual aid agreements between municipalities, thus assuring access to needed equipment, personnel and supplies.
The municipalities divide each emergency response into three stages: preparation for the emergency, response to the emergency and, ultimately, recovery. Each emergency, she said, has specific characteristics. For example, storms and flooding emergencies will be handled quite differently from emergencies involving active shooter, cyber-attacks and power outages. The methods, techniques and personnel used to address each emergency will vary.
Administrator Robson explained that an effective emergency response can require expertise from personnel in the police, fire, engineering, ambulance, highway, and finance departments, among others.
Another source of assistance is Con Ed. Manager Barberio explained how important the liaison with Con Ed was during Hurricane Ida. He described how Con Ed maintains a registry of customers with special medical needs who required power for life sustaining medical equipment. (For privacy reasons, the registry is not shared with the municipalities.)
Both Manager Barberio and Administrator Datino encouraged residents of all local municipalities to sign up for municipal notifications so that members of the public can get prompt warning of developing situations.
After the preparation and response stages conclude, the municipality enters into the recovery stage. This begins with an initial assessment of the damage. The emergency and highway departments will commence emergency repairs and begin planning for later larger repairs. Recovery includes a post-event analysis for future improvements. Another important aspect of recovery is careful record-keeping in order to secure federal emergency and recovery reimbursement. The Village of Mamaroneck has secured $9 million of recovery aid from Ida as of this date.
All three officials stressed the crucial role the county and state governments play and emphasized the importance of inter-municipal assistance. Manager Barberio noted that after Hurricane Ida assistance arrived from across New York State and that forty-five fire departments assisted during the recovery. He also noted, gratefully, the enormous amount of volunteer efforts from local citizens, organizations and neighbors.
The Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit is an informal community council that seeks to make a better life for the community by keeping it informed of major issues of concern. The next Zoom program, co-hosted with LMC Media, will be on Tuesday, October 11th at 8:00 am.