New York State Ready

Friday, January 04, 2013

A Mantoloking home built on stilts survived Sandy. It used to be surrounded by dunes, but all the sand washed away in the storm. (Scott Gurian)

Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia School of Public Health and founder of the Children's Health Fund talks about his work as the co-chair of the post-Sandy New York State Ready commission. He is also the author of Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do


Dr. Irwin Redlener

Comments [19]

Jessie Henshaw from Way Uptown

From a complex systems view, the resilience of the system comes from its own networks of relationships... NOT from a central computer data-bank.

For civil defense what you need, (and I just can't believe our emergence preparedness community has forgotten this most basic principle), is a community of neighbors who know their neighbors, so the local civil defense response from emergency personnel can connect with the community.

There's really no other way... actually. The "ready commission" seems to have forgotten that tried and true approach.

It's the one and only way to have a current "data base" of human connections, i.e. for the humans to maintain their connections!

Jan. 05 2013 12:19 AM
Carlina from NYC

Questions re Storm Preparedness & the 2nd Avenue Subway:

- Is the MTA applying any new storm-preparedness techniques in the 2nd Avenue Subway construction?

- Dr. Redlener briefly mentioned earthquakes as one kind of hazard to be included in 'preparedness' planning. Given that a fault runs under 125th St. in Manhattan, is there a concern that the numerous underground detonations from the 2nd Ave. Subway construction might trigger earthquakes in Manhattan? If so, how might commercial & residential owners & tenants 'prepare' for them?

- The subway construction has been causing tangible, visible shaking in many buildings, as well as cracks & leaks. If, as might logically be assumed, some building foundations have been affected, & possibly compromised, does this put buildings on and near 2nd Avenue at higher risk for flooding and/or major damage from future Super Storms?

Jan. 04 2013 12:20 PM

I agree totally with Bonn from East Village. I has the same experience, a working landline that was a boon to myself AND MY NEIGHBORS plus a dependable Sangean transister radio (2 X AA battery) connected me to the outside world. The greatest frustration was the communications from the radio hosts about url's that had all the instructions and details, right there, on the web site. Well, without a phone number and without electricity or internet, one can just remain in the dark about say, about ice and food in UnionSquare.

I assume all the corporations that can benefit from the government's vow of interest in planning for future disasters, there will be a great corporate push for the technological perhaps at risk of ignoring the basic time-honored means of radio and a landline telephone. Landlines should never be removed! They have rarely failed while cell towers have. I can't text, but my radio didn't need this skill. I also used a small battery operated TV, a 4 inch screen that allowed me to see all the Mayor's news conferences. This TV was a voracious chewer of battery life (4 X AA)so used only for the newscasts. I relied on radio mostly. (Bloomberg News 1130
AM always covered the news conferences in full, unlike some radio that would not). Then there was the marvelous discovery (short-lived but most appreciated) of radio 710AM carrying the full broadcasts on NBC Ch 4 of the storm coverage, that's how I attended one of the fund rallies too...

Light: LED LANTERNS use very little battery power and D-batteries live long with LED.

Water: If everyone in high rise buildings had heeded the call to fill bathtubs with water, a considerable amount of suffering would have been prevented.

Lastly, community links within highrise buildings should be encouraged and management responsible for checking welfare. Building management was often sorely missing according to reports.
Generators at gas stations may be excellent idea, but so would providing access to lots of D batteries, and 9 volt batteries along with double A's.

Long live radio!! And read David Cay Johnston's latest book.

Jan. 04 2013 11:37 AM
Haym from Noho

As a serial caller I don't mind that my question didn't make it on the program (BTW, Happy New Year Brian, the family & All) but I find the whole tone of the discussion on the air infuriating:

The comments by Amy, Truth & Superf above are right on.

We must move away from centralized and defensive thinking. Community-based, localized and independent sustainable energy networks will pay for themselves, reduce peak demand and build freedom from the grid over time, while reducing greenhouse gasses and providing options for emergency power, heat and communications.

Sustainable energy is moribund in NY because of political paralysis and chronic economic myopia.

The brief post-Sandy teaching moment has passed, Obama got the benefit, Mitt got bit, but nobody has gotten the message.

Jan. 04 2013 11:10 AM

Verizon Fios "Land Lines" run off of batteries -- we could make phone calls for two hours after the power died.

I called Verizon to see if I could get a better battery, so I could use my phone for longer than that (maybe 2 weeks? Like how long I really needed the thing to work before power was restored?) "No," was the response. "We don't make batteries to last longer than 2-4 hours." Why?? "We are not required to."

Turns out even THAT was a Verizon "lobbying success."

Jan. 04 2013 11:03 AM
John A

ladyjay114, I can show you the dated pictures on my pocketcam. Two pictures were taken, two trees went down. Cost had to be around 1 man-week to fix, with stranded customers.

Jan. 04 2013 11:01 AM

@John A - Fantastic point about tree trimming. This was the main reason why power wasn't brought back faster to Long Island after the storm. LIPA does not have a proactive tree trimming program and it wind up hurting them during the post-Sandy recovery.

Jan. 04 2013 10:46 AM
Jeff C from old Brooklyn

Since the Governor is taking the "long" view (where should we be in 2100?), discussion of where to put the power lines also must include the viability of wireless power transmission.

Jan. 04 2013 10:34 AM
John A.

Trimming trees is the number one avoided responsibility for both Fairfield and Westchester counties. I never see them doing pro-active work and the reactive duties after the storm have to be more work, because there is clearing both the trees and restoring the line. I predicted two outages in the days before Sandy, just by looking at trees. Bolder moves please!

Jan. 04 2013 10:34 AM
Bonn from East Village

Texts? If you don't have phone service, how does that work? My cell phone and landline attached to my Internet modem didn't work, but my extra landline, connected to the phone jack, worked. I received and made phone calls throughout the 4-day power outage in the East Village, and my neighbors used my phone to contact their friends and family. People laughed that I still held onto it. Now, I heard that Verizon wants to get rid of all landlines. That's a horrible mistake. Also, my Walkman with one battery kept me apprised of everything that was going on, and I could inform people in the streets. Being a dinosaur has advantages after all. Also, maybe you don't know, but there are still people on the LES in the alphabets who don't have phone service. Why isn't this more publicized?

Jan. 04 2013 10:34 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The 1st caller mentioned the role of money concerns in putting readiness provisions into place. I think every time someone says preparedness will cost too much, it needs to be pointed out how much more it will cost if the money isn't spent. The IPCC has included this in its reports on global climate disruption.

Jan. 04 2013 10:28 AM
Christine from Brooklyn

I was in NW CT for both Irene and the October snowstorm that paralyzed the state.

If gas stations were still locally owned "service stations" and not just a bunch of pumps and a quicky mart owned by multinational corporations, we wouldn't be talking about why gas stations don't have generators or are not prepared for natural disasters.

During the snowstorm, there was one locally owned service station with a gas pump that had a line down the road since that local business cared enough about its viability to be prepared with a generator and get their business up and running. The BP, Exxon, Mobile and others were all closed. These corporations probably did a cost benefit analysis and decided that generators cost more than was worth it to them, not how important their product would be to the community during a disaster.

Jan. 04 2013 10:25 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Re: Text Messaging

Text messaging is dependent on cell phones and when cell phone towers lose power, text messaging comes to a screeching halt. How about putting photovoltaic cells and small windmills on the cell phone towers to keep the power running?

Jan. 04 2013 10:24 AM
Frank from Lindenhurst

I find the recommendation to build and maintain a database of vulnerable inhabitants a silly response to a bureaucratic instinct to make and maintain lists. It's probably too costly an effort to keep such a database reliable. Most people with medical and other special needs are already on someone's list -- doctors, social workers, etc. My suggestion is to integrate these possible sources of information and have a network of communication ready as a threat unfolds in real time.

Jan. 04 2013 10:24 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Well, one thing I hope we finally learned is, that you don't put vital things underground in places where flooding is inevitable. Water flows DOWN, not up.

Jan. 04 2013 10:19 AM

if you are determined enough, or stupid enough, to rebuild in a flood prone area, you should be required to mildew-proof materials.

Jan. 04 2013 10:19 AM

How to prepare? Don’t rebuild on the water!

Jan. 04 2013 10:19 AM

sixty billion here, sixty billion there, pretty soon it's going to be real money?

probably sounds insane! but...any chance that we can throw a few benjamins at *preventing* climate change?

Jan. 04 2013 10:18 AM
Penny from Downtown

The flooding horse is already out of the barn, and everyone still talks continually about water. What if the next storm has category 4 winds and glass is smashed all over Emerald City?

Jan. 04 2013 10:16 AM

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