Let’s Make Hurricane Sandy the Catalyst for Change so we don’t Suffer the Same Catastrophic Damage Again

Land Use

 

We cannot change what happened with Hurricane Sandy.  But, we can use Hurricane Sandy as the catalyst for change so we do not suffer the same catastrophic damage again from the next storm.

We need to put an action plan in place now on Long Island, and the entire metropolitan region, so we do everything possible to protect our population, communities and businesses in the future.

Here are some ideas to consider in terms of land use, municipal and environmental planning:

We need to increase the number of power generating plants and facilities in our area.  Let’s recognize once and for all that we don’t have enough power generating capacity.  To get to where we need to be, we need a comprehensive plan to strategically locate new facilities.  This will mean setting aside the local “not here” objections and adopting a wider, public benefit analysis when we consider new locations for power plants and facilities.  Yes, we need to review all proposals for environmental impact.  But, we now need to recognize that to preserve our environment we need these facilities so we don’t suffer the consequences that we are now dealing with.

We need to adopt a plan to rebuild our existing infrastructure and construct new infrastructure to support our communities.  All of our infrastructure is aging.  A lot of it is antiquated.  We need to repair and bring up to current standards our roads, bridges, tunnels, water and sewer treatment plants, power generating facilities and all related facilities.  At the same time, we need to plan new infrastructure.  We need a Robert Moses type regional plan, and we need someone with his type of vision to make it happen.  It’s time to cut through the endless red tape and delays, and get the job done.

We need a plan to “storm proof” our power supply systems and power lines.  We shouldn’t put in any new lines unless they are underground.  When municipalities approve new subdivisions or developments, the municipal code must mandate underground electric and power lines so we are less vulnerable to disruptions.  We also need to mandate back up generating systems for vital services and facilities, including gas stations and other facilities vital to sustaining our daily lives.

We need to encourage various types of uses and businesses.  This includes businesses that provide power, fuel and vital materials, businesses that manufacture goods and products, local stores that serve communities and service industries.  Yes, we should have our regional shopping malls and big box stores.  But, we also need to make sure that we have local stores and service providers so we don’t have to travel by car to get the equipment, supplies and food we need to sustain our lifestyles.

We now need to realize that email, smart phones and our electronic way of life is great, but we need the infrastructure to support it.  Maybe we don’t have enough appropriate telecommunications facilities for our needs?  Maybe we need to invest in more places to charge our electronic devices, and have back up charging facilities in place for the next power outage.  Maybe, we also need to realize that the old fashion mail delivery system is essential to our well being, and make sure we have sufficient postal facilities in our area.

We need to invest in the people and institutions that serve us in times of need and crisis.  Health care facilities, police and fire departments, EMS and EMT personnel, whether paid or volunteers.  We need to upgrade their facilities and equipment and also expand our existing forces.

We need to get serious about inter-municipal agreements and sharing resources.  We should have regional supply warehouses and stores for gas, food and necessities that can be delivered to the public in time of crisis.  We don’t need FEMA to accomplish this.

Most important, we now need an action plan to rebuild what Hurricane Sandy destroyed.  We need to cut the red tape and get the job done.  Expedite permits to rebuild and repair, set up a pool of resources people need such as contractors, plumbers, electricians, architects and engineers.  Suspend the usual public bidding requirements and expand the scope of contracts governments can award on an emergency basis to so we can clean up, restore and rebuild. Adopt incentives and laws to encourage rebuilding.  Give tax breaks to people and businesses so money can go back into their properties and businesses on an immediate basis.

These are just some points to consider.  As the days pass after the storm, let’s think about these and all other ideas so we don’t get caught again the next time.

 

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