New York City relief: Day seven

When a disaster the magnitude of Hurricane Sandy happens in a densely-populated area like New York City, additional resources are needed quickly to begin the response and relief efforts as quickly as possible.

Large commerical genertors in New York City

The city’s emergency managers were able to bring personnel and materiel in quickly from around the country using the EMAC system. EMAC - the Emergency Management Assistance Compact - is an interstate agreement that allows for the rapid deployment of response teams from all corners of the country. Louisiana, Maine, Ohio, Arizona, Texas and many others are well represented on the ground, along with Florida, of course.

Here at Logistics, we’ve been working shoulder to shoulder with representatives from the cities of Boston and New York. I had a chance to sit down with one of the members of the Boston contingent to find out what the deployment is like for her.

Christine Invencion working the numbers

I spoke with Christine Invencion, an IT Business Analyst with the Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF). This team came to New York thinking they were going to be working in shelters, serving meals and assisting evacuees - a task that BCYF performs for the City of Boston during times of emergency. Upon arriving in NYC however, they discovered there was a manpower need in the NYC OEM Logistics Center and soon found their expertise redirected to the mobilization effort. “I didn’t even bring my laptop with me, but I was happy to be brought over for the logistics team doing what I’m best at.” Her expertise with data was put to the task as she built a master database of equipment deployed to the field. “I’m proud of that database. It’s going to make it easier for the city to serve impacted residents faster, and will help when it comes time to bring that equipment back after the need is over.”

Alex Markowski hard at work

I also had an opportunity to interview Alex Markowski, the assistant commissioner for logistics at New York City’s Office of Emergency Management. Alex pointed out that while the city has had plans on the books for how to deal with a storm of this magnitude, there have been a lot of changes since the last time New York City took a major impact from a hurricane. “It’s been nearly 80 years since the Long Island Express of 1938, and there has been a lot of buildings and infrastructure built in the affected areas since then.” Alex continued, “The amount of damage we experienced will take some time to rebuild from.”

And, how has it been having so many people in from out of town to help with the recovery effort? “We appreciate the help. It’s great to have the experience and talent here from around the country, and we appreciate what everyone has been doing.”

The Boston team will be leaving after Friday’s shift, headed back to Bean Town. They will be replaced by a team from Texas, which will also eventually replace our Tampa Bay group as well.

For those who want to see how widespread the damage is in New York City and the New Jersey coastline, NASA has a page with some dramatic before and after aerial photos that can be found here.

And, New York 1’s political director Bob Hart has been blogging about the storm from his home in the Rockaways. Some of the reports from the time of Sandy’s impacts are hair raising…