HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. – As the newly empaneled Sandy Recovery Assessment Task Force gathered for its first meeting this morning, a man from Lindenhurst walked into the room. He is still dealing with the aftermath of the historic 2012 superstorm and wanted to know if the task force would be speaking with residents like him who are still struggling.
His story is one of the driving forces behind why Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory formed the task force, whose establishment was unanimously approved by the Legislature in December. Gregory wants the task force to take a thorough look into government’s response to the storm and rebuilding efforts to assess what went well and identify areas for improvement.
“The task force has a clear goal: to review storm preparedness, response and long-term recovery programs and policies in Suffolk County in order to determine how and where we can best improve, so that we can better respond to and reduce the devastation of future storms,” Presiding Officer Gregory said. “The work this task force undertakes over the course of this year will have a tremendous impact on our region’s ability to address future disasters.”
At this morning’s meeting, held at the Suffolk County Legislature’s Hauppauge building, Dave Calone, former head of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, was named chair of the 27-member group, which includes representatives from government agencies and nonprofits as well as builders, engineering experts and planners, and local and state officials.
“The talent and expertise around this table is truly impressive, and we are grateful to have state representation on the panel as well so they can take our recommendations about policies and priorities to Albany,” Presiding Officer Gregory said.
The task force will meet monthly, with smaller working groups meeting more frequently. Working groups will explore immediate municipal and utility coordination and response; residential and commercial recovery and reconstruction; resiliency and coastal protection; and infrastructure. Presiding Officer Gregory also wants the group to hold public hearings across Suffolk County at which residents and community groups can share their stories, struggles and ideas for solutions.
The goal is for the task force to draft a report by the end of the year that reviews recovery programs and makes recommendations for future storm responses.
Caption for photo: Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory opens the first meeting of his newly empaneled Sandy Recovery Assessment Task Force in Hauppauge on Feb. 15.