New York Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy came to Rockland County on Monday to tour the hard hit areas of Piermont and Stony Point and discuss with officials the ongoing power outages, gas shortage and how best to coordinate local, state and federal assistance.
Duffy joined County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, Sheriff Louis Falco and Fire & Emergency Communications Coordinator Gordon Wren at a Monday afternoon press conference to review the county’s status one week after Hurricane Sandy.
“Our goal is to access and mobilize any state resource the county and sheriff need,” said Duffy.
Vanderhoef said the 19,500 Rockland customers without power is equal to one out of every five county residents. Vanderhoef said he was one of those residents without power.
“One in five people is unacceptable after 7-and–a-half days,” said Vanderhoef. “People are angry and frustrated. They want to know what we’re doing, what O&R is doing.”
Duffy said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been on the phone daily with utility companies pushing them to restore service.
“He is as angry as some people are,” said Duffy, adding that when cleanup is complete there will be meetings to figure out how to improve preparation for storms.
“Resources are pouring in,” said Duffy, who saw utility truck convoys on his travel through the state. “It’s getting the resources to where you need them."
Duffy said FEMA would be setting up a Disaster Assistance Center in the county soon. People whose property was damaged by the severe storm can register with FEMA at 800-621-3362.
Vanderhoef said the county’s State of Emergency would remain in effect for several more days.
“We’re concerned about the storm coming to us and hope it will be lighter than predicted,” he said.
Another reason the state of emergency remains in effect is the 10-gallon limit on gas sales. Vanderhoef said the gasoline supply in the county was improving but people were still worried.
We’ve had gas stations turn us down for emergency delivers of gas for emergency workers,” Vanderhoef said.
Falco said he spoke with police chiefs last week after some fistfights broke at gas stations. He noted the 10-gallon limit eased the situation along with having police officers speak directly with gas station operators and attendants.
“There are still tankers that will not deliver without a police escort,” he said, adding his department escorted a tanker from Brooklyn to the county with gas for ambulances, fire trucks and police cars.
Wren said his office recommends that under construction gas stations and supermarkets and that undergoing major renovations be required to install generators. Another reason the shortage is easing is that more gas stations are coming on line and able to pump the supply they have.
Falco said there have not been problems with looting, however, he assigned five additional officers to Piermont and other flooded areas.
Rockland’s Office of Consumer Protection Director & Public Advocate Terry Grosselfinger is addressing other situations where people have been taking advantage of those in need. Initially the complaints were about price gouging for gas now it has shifted to tree removal.
His office has received calls about trees companies implementing “significant increases” for tree cutting after the hurricane. Vanderhoef said there are reputable companies in the county and people should remember to get two bids. People can call 845-708-7600 or complete an online complaint form.