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O&R Response To Hurricane Irene Focus Of Legislature Hearing

Public Safety Committee Session scheduled for Sept. 27.

The Legislature’s Public Safety Committee holds a hearing on Tuesday, Setp. 27 to review and evaluate Orange and Rockland Utilities’ response to Hurricane Irene.

O&R Director of Public Affairs Thomas Brizzolara is expected to attend the hearing, which was requested by Legislator Ed Day (R-New City/Pomona).

Day said he wants to hear O&R’s assessment of its response to the outages caused by the storm and is expecting a post event analysis of what was done right and what could be managed differently in the future.

“While I am appreciative of the overwhelming impact of Hurricane Irene on our community, there remain many questions in both my mind and the minds of many of my neighbors just how prepared O&R was to what was a well tracked and expected event, and whether the resources committed to the storm were sufficient,” said Day.

Hurricane Irene hit Rockland County during the overnight hours of Saturday, Aug. 27 flooding neighborhoods, damaging roads and bridges and knocking down trees and power lines. More than 30,000 customers lost service — some for nine days.

“It is my considered opinion, as one who has been involved with emergency preparedness and response in the public and private sector, that despite the fact the storm was well identified and not unexpected, that O&R came up short, particularly in their initial response,” said Day. 

Day wants the legislative committee to assess O&R’s communication procedures. He listed numerous complaints including lack of telephone communication, a slow response to downed power lines, inaccurate outage information on the company website and the length of time it took to make repairs.

“What I look to do is to provide a forum for our community so they can convey their frustrations; gain an understanding of what O&R encountered, accomplished, where they succeeded, where they failed, and most importantly, where they can improve,” said Day. “My goal is simple; to ensure that any future incident is responded to in an efficient and effective manner.”

The hearing is open to the public and begins at 5 p.m. in the legislative chambers at the Allison-Parris County Office Building, 11 New Hempstead Road, New City.

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