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Hurricane Irene

The Takeaway

Rep. Bill Pascrell on the Aftermath of Irene

Friday, September 02, 2011

Nearly a week after Hurricane Irene tore through the East Coast, many towns are still in the midst of the massive flooding that followed the storm. The city of Paterson, New Jersey is one of the places that the storm hit hardest. The low-lying city of about 150,000 sits along the banks of the Passaic River, which is dealing with the highest floods it has seen in more than a century. President Obama is scheduled to survey the damage there this weekend.

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WNYC News

Beaches Open as Storm Cleanup Continues

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The New York City Parks Department has some good news for beach-goers. Commissioner Adrian Benepe said all city beaches will be open on Friday, just in time for the Labor Day weekend.

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The Empire

NY State insurance watchdog says Irene damage is covered

Thursday, September 01, 2011

By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief

Courtesy of the NY State Banking Department

State Insurance superintendent Benjamin Lawsky says is office has had reports that some New Yorkers flooded during Irene are being told by their insurance companies that their flood insurance does not cover damages. He says that is absolutely incorrect.

“If you have flood insurance it applies regardless of the cause of the flooding,” said Lawsky. “This is what insurance is all about. You pay these premiums year in and year out for when a disaster like this happens.”

Lawsky won’t speculate on whether the insurance adjusters are committing fraud or simply misinformed, but he says he intends to use every power of his office to go after companies found to be deliberately misleading policy holders.

The Superintendent says New Yorkers who feel they have been wrongly denied flood insurance payments should call the Insurance Department’s disaster hotline at 1-800-339-1759.

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WNYC News

NJ Opens Health Hotline for Businesses and Residents

Thursday, September 01, 2011

WNYC

New Jersey's Health and Senior Services Department has opened a call center to field questions about health concerns stemming from Tropical Storm Irene.

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WNYC News

City's Congressional Delegation Asks for Broader Federal Disaster Aid

Thursday, September 01, 2011

WNYC

The city's Congressional delegation is joining Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz in calling on the federal government to include Brooklyn as part of its major disaster declaration.

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WNYC News

Safeguards Against Chronic NJ Flooding Will Be Costly: Expert

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A long-term solution to the Passaic River's chronic flooding will be a costly, multi-faceted strategy that will have to include restricting development in the floodplain, according to Colonel John Boule, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District.

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The Takeaway

FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate on Responding to Irene

Thursday, September 01, 2011

As residents of the East Coast begin putting their lives back together after Tropical Storm Irene devastated homes and businesses across the region, questions are being asked about how prepared communities were for the onslaught and whether they have the resources needed to recover quickly. Craig Fugate, administrator of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is in charge of preparing and responding to natural disasters like Irene. He's been visiting the areas impacted the most by the storm, and discusses the recovery process.

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Transportation Nation

Hurricane Irene Damage Amplified by Decades of Bad Infrastructure Policy

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A flooded street in downtown Millburn, New Jersey

WNYC's Bob Hennelly writes in his latest Stucknation blog post that global warming, combined with years of bad infrastructure policy, has set the table for the type of massive flood damage 13 states experienced this week.

"The scope of the damage of these short-sighted landuse practices that play out at the local level have become so pernicious the results can be seen from space...Can we learn these lessons or are we doomed to just keep repeating the same failed behavior? Connecting these dots are  our 21st century WPA scale challenge."

You can read his post here.

And you can listen to Bob discuss America's infrastructure policy on this morning's The Takeaway.

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The Takeaway

Angry With An Airline? Try Tweeting

Thursday, September 01, 2011

In the days after Hurricane Irene, many travelers find themselves stranded after cancelled flights or suspended train service kept them from going where they wanted to go. Even without extreme weather conditions complicating travel, most travelers have an an airline horror story or two, and many times the source of the problem is not the cancelled trip or lost bag, but inadequate customer service or lack of information from the airline. Several airlines are seeking to remedy this problem by using social networking for customer relations — a tactic many different types of companies are employing nowadays.

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The Takeaway

Rethinking American Infrastructure

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Within a week, the northeastern United States was hit by both an earthquake and hurricane. Following Hurricane Irene, four million homes and businesses lost electricity. According to experts like Dan Genest of Dominion Virginia Power, turning the lights back on will be no easy task. He told the AP that "one broken pole can take six to seven hours to repair."

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The Takeaway

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin on Rebuilding After Irene

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Tropical Storm Irene has been called the worst natural disaster to ever hit Vermont. Twelve thousand people remain without power thereand over 250 roads were closed, with six state highway bridges completely destroyed. The federal government has pledged $5 million to Vermont for initial rebuilding. Relief efforts are underway, and progress is already being made for the many towns and highways irreparably damaged by the storm.

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It's A Free Blog

Stucknation: Hurricane Irene Damage Amplified by Decades of Bad Infrastructure Policy

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hurricane Irene graphically illustrated how thousands of bad local landuse decisions, when hit by a storm the size of Europe, can all help produce a "natural disaster" with continental consequences.

-Bob Hennelly, Stucknation columnist

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WNYC News

Many Still Stranded in Flood-Ravaged Catskills

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WNYC

Rain and wind from Tropical Storm Irene destroyed roads, washed bridges away, knocked down trees and ripped buildings from their foundation in the Catskills, leaving people stranded and isolated from help. Recovery from the storm could cost $1 billion and take several months.

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Transportation Nation

NY's MTA Invokes "Emergency Powers" To Rebuild Port Jervis Line

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chairman Jay Walder surveys damage on the Port Jervis Line with MTA Board Members Susan Metzger and Carl Wortendyke (photo by Hilary Ring/MTA)

Rebuilding the Metro-North's Port Jervis commuter rail line will take months, not weeks -- and the MTA is invoking special powers to move forward with the work.

The line, which serves New York's Rockland and Orange Counties, was hit hard by Hurricane Irene flooding. MTA head Jay Walder described the damage as  "catastrophic" -- a description that seems borne out on the MTA's Flickr page, which has photos showing places where the track has completely washed out. In other pictures, the rails are canted at an angle -- more like a roller coaster than railroad tracks.

The MTA also says there is significant damage to the line's railroad bridges, as well as suspected significant damage to the signal system -- which is visibly exposed and under water.

There's no estimate yet of how long it will take to restore service. Also unknown at this time: how much repairs will cost, or how much money the federal government will contribute.

Jay Walder said in a statement today:  “There are sections of track literally suspended in the air, and in many places we will have to build a new railroad from scratch, from the foundation to the tracks to the signals. I have directed Metro-North to take such steps as are necessary to expeditiously and fully address the catastrophic damage suffered along the Port Jervis Line as a result of Irene. Rebuilding this infrastructure is going to be a long and difficult process, but we are taking every action in our power to continue serving our customers, to reduce unnecessary delay and to communicate every step of the way.”

Part of those actions: invoking "emergency powers," which the MTA described as necessary to quickly free up money and waive procurement rules.

"They’re going to do work now and sort the funding out later," said William Henderson, the executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. He said waiving the usual competitive bidding process will allow Metro-North to speed up repairs.

The MTA is providing bus service from Harriman, New York, to a NJ Transit rail station in Ramsey, NJ, where passengers can board trains heading to New York Penn Station. Marjorie Anders said the MTA is about to announce additional bus service which will take passengers from Port Jervis and Middletown across the Hudson River into Beacon, where riders can take that Metro-North line south to Grand Central Terminal.

You can read the MTA's statement on rebuilding the Port Jervis line here (pdf).

 

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Features

Farms Struggle to Assess Damage Caused by Tropical Storm Irene

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tropical Storm Irene officially left the area on Sunday. But farmers, like Cheryl Rogowski, who owns a 150-acre farm in Orange County, are just beginning to assess the damage that the storm has wrought on their crops.

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WNYC News

VT Working to Patch Roads, Reach Isolated Communities

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WNYC

Up to 11 inches of rain from Tropical Storm Irene turned Vermont’s placid streams into churning torrents of water that toppled homes, washed out roads and bridges and stranded scores of people.

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The Empire

Brooklyn BP Markowitz blasts borough's exclusion from disaster zones

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Amy Sussman / Getty

Governor Cuomo was thanking the Federal government for declaring counties in New York as disaster zones. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is doing the opposite, after Kings County was not included:

In Brooklyn, hundreds of trees were knocked down, doing significant damage to cars, homes and infrastructure, and some Brooklynites remain without power. Brooklyn’s low-lying ‘Zone A’ neighborhoods that were evacuated saw significant flooding, including Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Coney Island, Red Hook, DUMBO and Williamsburg. Just yesterday, it was discovered that a section of the BQE may be unstable as a result of storm damage and will need urgent repair. The storm even made landfall at Coney Island.

Given these facts, I am absolutely dumbfounded that federal officials have excluded Kings County from a disaster declaration for public assistance. I applaud Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg for requesting this help, and hope that FEMA immediately reverses this dreadful decision and includes Brooklyn.

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The Empire

New York declared a federal disaster area: Cuomo

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

President Obama made it official: New York is now a federally recognized disaster area.

"I thank President Obama for his quick action granting New York a federal disaster declaration," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "The damage incurred by Irene has devastated communities in counties across our State, leaving many without homes and towns and villages without essential public infrastructure. All levels of government are working together to help New York recover and we will not stop until the job is done."

The Federal government will supply financial and other assistance in helping predominantly upstate counties recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Irene.

On a related note, the governor's office has said 78 percent of homes have had powered restored. That leaves 328,907 homes still without power, with the majority of those out on Long Island.

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WNYC News

Officials Cleaning Upstate NY Oil Spill After Storm

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oil and water don't mix — but the two are jointly causing problems in Schoharie County in upstate New York where flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Irene damaged tanks at an oil distribution center and caused a spill.

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