Lawmakers Share Success in Restoring FEMA Hurricane Aid to Suffolk County
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today joined Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and Congressmen Peter King and Tim Bishop to showcase emergency supplies trailers that have been restored to Long Island.
"This is great news for Long Islanders. Given Long Island's unique geography, having supplies on-hand is both invaluable and essential to maintain the safety of our residents. These supplies have arrived with not a moment to spare as hurricane season is well underway. With the help of local officials working in concert with FEMA and SEMO we will continue to work to ensure that both Nassau and Suffolk will be well prepared for any disaster that may come their way," said Senator Clinton.
In 2006, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stored trailers containing food, water, generators and shelter materials in Suffolk and Nassau counties in the event a hurricane devastated the Long Island region. However, upon being removed at the end of 2006 hurricane season, the trailers were not returned for the following year, as FEMA proposed to centralize emergency supplies for the Northeast in upstate New York.
Disappointed with FEMA's decision, Levy enlisted help from Senator Clinton and the rest of Suffolk's federal representatives to restore the needed supplies to Long Island.
"In the event of a natural disaster, all modes of transportation would be heavily compromised," Levy said. "The effects of Hurricane Katrina made it extremely difficult for rescue workers to provide help to the people of New Orleans. Now imagine trying to get supplies from upstate New York to Suffolk County via a handful of bridges and tunnels -- the closest of which is over 20 miles from the Suffolk borderline. Such a feat would be impossible. We need emergency supplies stationed here on Long Island."
Through their negotiation efforts, Senator Clinton and Congressmen King and Bishop were able to convince FEMA that emergency supplies were needed within close proximity of Long Island's roughly 3 million people.
"FEMA has taken a positive step in returning the trailers to Suffolk County, closer to the area of impact and readily available should a disaster strike," said Congressman King. "I commend FEMA for supplying Suffolk County and urge them to move as expeditiously as possible to fully stock Nassau County so that all of Long Island can be prepared."
"As we have seen in the past, proper disaster preparedness is essential for Long Island," Congressman Bishop said. "That is why, at the request of Suffolk County, I joined with my colleagues in personally pressing FEMA officials to commit to delivering these supplies to Long Island. These measures are particularly critical as we enter into the hurricane season this year. I will continue to work with local and federal officials to ensure that Long Island is prepared for any coming storms or other emergencies."
Under the agreement with FEMA, emergency supplies for Long Island would be split between two locations, one in Nassau and one in Suffolk. Nassau will be storing food and water supplies in a county-owned 10,000-square-foot, climate-controlled warehouse located in Bethpage, while Suffolk will house the nonperishable emergency essentials within four 40-foot long trailers provided by the New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) through an agreement with FEMA. These trailers arrived at the Suffolk County Fire Training Academy in Yaphank on Thursday, July 24, and will remain there until a later date when they will be transported to Brookhaven National Laboratory for storage.
Each trailer provided by FEMA has supplies for 500 people and contains:
A five kilowatt generator
A portable toilet
First aid kits
Suffolk County also owns 18 smaller trailers, containing many of the same items included in the FEMA trailers, available in the event of an emergency.
"We are hoping that Suffolk residents exercise a self-preparedness philosophy and that these supplies would only be used as a last resort," Levy said. "Since a natural disaster can happen suddenly with no alarm, it is important that everyone be as prepared as possible for all kinds of emergencies."
Although unable to attend the event, Senator Charles Schumer, another key figure in the emergency supplies securitization, said, "We are very pleased that finally FEMA has come through with the disaster supplies for Suffolk County. After much prodding, FEMA has finally realized that these supplies were wrongfully and inexplicably removed last year. As we are now entering peak storm season, FEMA could not afford to wait another minute."