Bring your storm stories: County seeks public input on storm response

It has been a half-decade since the worst storm in recent memory hit Long Island. Sandy, bringing high winds and harrowing storm surge, knocked power out and tested our collective resiliency.

That was 2012, before any of us could fathom storms like Harvey, Irma, Maria that tore through coastal communities last year.

In response, Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory formed a Superstorm Sandy Review Task Force. A series of public hearings will be held throughout April and May to allow for feedback from those who weathered the storms: victims, community organizations, and other stakeholders are all invited to participate.

“Many residents are still struggling to put their lives back together after Superstorm Sandy, whether it be navigating complex recovery programs, waiting for funding or dealing with fraudulent contractors. We want to hear their stories,” said Presiding Officer Gregory in a statement.

Just last month, FEMA approved funding for mitigation at the Bellport Village-owned and operated marina that was badly damaged in the 2012 storm. Despite an arduous process that included lots of meetings and research effort, village Mayor Ray Fell described hearing the news as “the light at the end of a tunnel.”

Gregory sponsored legislation to create the task force, unanimously approved by the legislature, in December. The hearings, he said, will shed light on preparedness and planning for the future for the 27-member task force. The group, which meets monthly, includes reps from government agencies and nonprofit organizations as well as builders, engineers as well as elected officials. “We have to know what went wrong in order to make it right,” he said.

Hearings will be held at the following times and locations:

Wednesday, April 18, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Southampton Town Hall

116 Hampton Road, Southampton

Thursday, April 26, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Patchogue-Medford High School

181 Buffalo Avenue, Medford

Wednesday, May 2, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Babylon Town Hall

200 E. Sunrise Highway, Lindenhurst

As of this post, one hearing had already been held on Wednesday, April 11 at Stony Brook University. Constituents seeking more information on the public hearings should call 631-853-4088.

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