New York Counties Get State Money for 911 Upgrades Amid Hurricane Prep

Nassau and Suffolk counties will receive nearly $320,000 to make updates to their emergency dispatch operations.

by Robert Brodsky, Newsday / August 22, 2018
A destroyed beach house in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on Nov. 4, 2012 in Far Rockaway, N.Y. Shutterstock/Leonard Zhukovsky

(TNS) — Nassau and Suffolk counties will receive nearly $320,000 in state Homeland Security grants to upgrade their 911 response and emergency service dispatch operations, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced this week.

The funding announcement comes as Long Island officials begin to prepare for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through October.

Cuomo announced Monday that 57 counties and New York City would receive $10 million through the 2018-19 Public Safety Answering Points Operations grant, which allows counties to upgrade their public safety call-taking and dispatching technology.

“These grants will allow counties to continue to upgrade and improve their emergency communications and ensure that New Yorkers are getting the fastest, safest response in their moment of need,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Suffolk will receive $173,668 in grant funding to offset costs to its 911 call center, while Nassau will get $145,826, officials said. The noncompetitive, formula-based grant is dependent on a county’s population, operations and emergency service calls.

At a news conference Tuesday in Bethpage, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said her administration had learned a number of lessons from superstorm Sandy, which struck the region nearly six years ago, and was better prepared for the storm season.

“We are an island and we are vulnerable in such storms, which we saw all too closely during superstorm Sandy,” Curran said. “The good news is we have made great progress in the past six years.”

For example, Nassau now has contracts with several disaster management contractors and consultants to assist with debris removal and disposal after a storm, Curran said.

The county Office of Emergency Management, she said, also has procured 50 portable traffic lights to be powered by 100 generators, additional traffic management electronic warning signs, traffic cameras to monitor flooding conditions and a new warning system to notify residents about emergencies.

“We are ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store,” said Steven Morelli, Office of Emergency Management commissioner.

Suffolk, meanwhile, has expanded its mass notification capabilities, improved its weather forecasting models and updated its emergency management and hazard mitigation response plans, officials said.

“Suffolk County is continuously implementing best practices to ensure safety during these devastating storms, which includes educating our residents on emergency preparedness,” County Executive Steve Bellone said.

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