Sandy came for dinner on Monday, 29 October, and stayed for 12 days and counting. Even if we never have another superstorm like Sandy, we will have many more semi-Sandys that deliver wind and water that may only be half as destructive as Sandy was. That is bad enough to force change.
County Executive Astorino described a “complete and utter breakdown in communication” with the futility company on News12. He’s right.
From what I witnessed, storm recovery efforts have suffered significant failures in two key areas: information sharing and communications process.
I am not going to name names here, because there is plenty of blame to go around. But the key failures occurred with the futility companies that are our major service providers.
I would like suggest a few “worst practices” that need to change immediately.
1) Maps: Is there any reason why the actual maps of the primary electric lines, poles, transformers, and switches can NOT be given to every one of the municipalities, with that appropriate non-disclosure pre-cautions?
The answer better be, “No!” And by January 1, 2013, every one of the County’s municipalities had better have the same schematic that the futility company’s distribution engineers work from.
2) Lists: Is there any reason why the special needs registry the County maintains has should not be shared, with appropriate confidentiality, with the local governments?
The answer better be “No!” And by January 1, 2013, … you get the picture.
Not equipping local city, town, and village managers with this kind of information makes assessing the critical needs much more opaque. After all, when the ^&*# really hits the fan, who goes to pick up the pieces? In every case, it is always the local police, fire, ambulance, and public works crew. So we should let them fight without one hand tied behind their back.
3) Maps (part 2): Is there any reason why the outage maps have to be so poor?
It became very clear early on that the outage maps viewable online were–I am trying to be charitable–a bit sketchy. Why send everyone to a site–if they can get online–that you know is wrong, or, at best, ambiguous.
Why answer the phone and give people different and conflicting information about restoration, when their homes are on the SAME exact electric service loop?
Imagine, if we actually tried to crowdsource solutions next time, to bring the most customers back on line the faster by having more eyes looking at the situation. Ask the people. They will tell you how to solve the outage.