Says he has ‘real plan’ to prepare for next hurricane
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson has picked up the endorsement of state Sen. Diane Savino. And he might have Superstorm Sandy to thank for it.
Savino (D-Coney Island-Bensonhurst-Staten Island), whose district suffered extensive damage in the Oct. 29 hurricane, and who was flooded out of her Coney Island office by the storm, said she was impressed by a plan Thompson put forth to prepare for the next weather emergency the city faces.
“Bill Thompson has a real plan to prepare New York City for the next emergency - and create good-paying jobs along the way,” Savino said.
“The families I represent along the North Shore and southern Brooklyn saw firsthand how devastating storms can be for our coastal communities. Bill Thompson’s plan –preventing fuel shortages, fixing the life-saving 911 system, and hardening city infrastructure - won’t leave any family or community to fend for themselves when disaster strikes. I am proud to support him for mayor,” she said in her July 10 announcement.
Savino is a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of Democratic state senators who broke with their party and formed their own leadership conference in Albany.
In mid-June, Thompson, the former city comptroller, toured areas of Coney Island and Seagate that were heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy and issued a plan he said would keep New Yorkers safe the next time a storm of that magnitude hits the city. The plan included the creation of a new post; deputy mayor for infrastructure and construction, as well as an upgrade of the city’s troubled 911 system.
On Wednesday, Thompson reiterated his call for the city to have a “common sense plan” to ensure the safety of New York’s coastal communities if another natural disaster should hit.
“We must plan - and act - today to prepare for tomorrow," Thompson said. "We cannot secure New York's promise of opportunity if some families and communities are left fending for themselves when disaster strikes. My coastal protection plan contains critically important and common-sense steps we can take to bring New York’s residents out of harm’s way,” he said.
Thompson said that as mayor, he would support working together with state and federal partners to buy coastal land that has been devastated by floods and redevelop it as park space. Thompson’s plan also promotes the purchase of damaged homes and properties on the coast from homeowners whose houses were damaged by Sandy.
The coastal protection plan would fall under the purview of a new deputy mayor for Infrastructure and Construction, who Thompson would appoint to deal with integrating billions of dollars in post-Sandy federal aid into long-term city planning and power, sewage and telecommunication system upgrades.
The Staten Island Advance reported on its website that Thompson advocated adding foreign languages, such as Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, and Creole, to the city’s emergency notification system so that non-English speaking residents can receive the text alerts.
Thompson is also calling for new steps to protect public health after a storm, including steps to prevent a breakout of West Nile Virus, the illness spread by mosquitoes.
Thompson said he would increase notifications to residents in coastal communities about West Nile, begin testing and spraying in areas where needed, and explore the use of environmentally friendly methods, such as Gambusia fish that has been used around the country to combat mosquitoes.