Senate task force reviews Hurricane Sandy damage


State Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. joined other members of the New York State Senate’s bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy Recovery at a roundtable meeting recently to speak with local officials, business leaders and residents about progress –– or the lack thereof –– in rebuilding Long Island after the storm.

A number of the South Shore communities that were hardest hit by last October’s storm fall in Fuschillo’s district. The senators on the task force, who are from New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Rockland counties, said they are working to develop short- and long-term plans that will help communities “get back on their feet” following Hurricane Sandy.

The task force met on Jan. 3 at the Freeport Recreation Center to discuss Hurricane Sandy’s impact on Nassau and Suffolk counties. Local officials representing both counties, including leaders from the Towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay, were invited to discuss the challenges that they face and what steps can be taken to help improve preparedness and response to future storms.

Fuschillo, a Republican from Merrick, said task force members heard about the obstacles to recovery that Long Island communities have had to overcome since the storm. The senator added that he realizes that residents in his district, which stretches from Baldwin Harbor to Lindenhurst and includes Bellmore-Merrick, continue to suffer.

“Thousands of my constituents sustained severe damage to their homes and businesses,” he said. “Some lost everything they had. We need the recovery and rebuilding process to happen as quickly as possible.”

Before the roundtable, the task force toured Freeport, Oceanside and Island Park so that members from areas outside Long Island could view the extensive storm damage and recovery efforts that are under way.

Fuschillo said the task force is identifying areas most in need of recovery assistance and reviewing the rebuilding and storm-planning policies to remove roadblocks and ensure better storm preparedness. The group aims to develop legislative solutions to implement the recommendations made by the NYS 2100 Commission, the NYS Respond Commission and the NYS Ready Commission. Members will also travel to other areas damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The task force includes Sens. Malcolm Smith, a Democrat from Queens; Jack Martins, a Republican from Mineola; Lee Zeldin, a Republican from Shirley; Diane Savino, a Democrat from Staten Island/Brooklyn; Martin Golden, a Republican from Brooklyn; and David Carlucci, a Democrat from Rockland.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican from Rockville Centre, also joined task force members in Freeport, in addition to State Sens. Kemp Hannon, Carl Marcellino and Phil Boyle. All four represent communities across Long Island.