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Letter: Chapin Defends Town's Handling of Sandy

New Castle Councilman Jason Chapin weighs in, open to public feedback.

Letter to My Community

As a member of your Town Board, I would like to express my deep sympathy for the difficulties you have experienced as a result of Hurricane Sandy. I share your frustration at the amount of time it is taking to get us all back to normal. And, I would like to share with you what we have been doing on your behalf.

The town opened the Emergency Operations Center at Town Hall the day before Sandy hit. Supervisor Susan Carpenter, Town Administrator Penny Paderewski, Police Lt. Dan Cannon, Public Works Commissioner Anthony Vaccaro, a Con Ed liaison, and others were on hand to prepare for and deal with the aftermath of the storm. Early on Tuesday, Oct. 30, they mobilized all town resources to clear roads and to work with Con Ed to restore power to 5,900 homes and businesses. But this effort came with many challenges.

Our first challenge was to deal an unprecedented amount of destruction caused by Sandy. The overwhelming hurricane hit us as hard or harder than anywhere else in Westchester. We had to remove more than 275 trees blocking close to 200 roads throughout New Castle. Almost all of the downed trees were close to or touching power lines and the town had to wait for a Con Ed worker to be physically on site to tell us that power to the lines had been cut before any clearing could be done. Unfortunately, Con Ed provided only one crew to help us with road clearing. We immediately and continuously demanded more crews. But we were not alone in this. Con Ed provided only one crew to many adjacent towns as well.

As the major roads were cleared, we continued our effort to provide assistance to the people of New Castle. We opened the Community Center; checked on seniors and people with special needs; worked on restoring power to the schools and businesses; continued to work on opening our other roads; and arranged garbage drop off at several locations. In an effort to keep our citizens safe and informed, the Town Board and Police Department provided updates whenever new information was available.

Regarding Con Ed, they gave us only one crew for restoration the first four days. We made non-stop pleas for more crews and Congresswoman Lowey, Assemblyman Castelli, County Executive Astorino and County Legisator Kaplowitz applied additional pressure on our behalf. Eventually, we saw some progress as Con Ed increased the number of crews serving our town. Undoubtedly, Con Ed’s preparation for and response to this storm will be carefully scrutinized on both a local and state level in an effort to figure out what mistakes were made and how to improve service in the future.

I know how difficult this disaster has been on our community. The town has received hundreds of emails and calls from residents and businesses who have expressed their frustration and disappointment with Con Ed and the Town Board. I’ve read and responded to all the emails sent to me. But amidst the anger and frustration, I’ve also heard many wonderful stories about neighbors helping neighbors and that makes me very proud to be a member of this community. Moreover, town employees and our police force have done everything that was asked of them and more and I’m thankful for all that they have been doing.

Going forward, the Town will continue to work as hard and fast and long as necessary to restore everyone’s power and to clean up the mess left by Sandy. The Town Board is already looking at ways that we can better help residents, businesses and Con Ed prepared for and deal with the next calamity. In conjunction with this effort, we would like to begin a community conversation about lessons we have learned during this ordeal. Please feel free to email me at jchapin@town.new-castle.ny.us with your thoughts and suggestions.

I am in this with all of you and I accept responsibility for any disappointment you may have with the town government’s handling of this crisis. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through the process of repairing out town.

Sincerely,

Jason Chapin, Town Board Member

Lori November 09, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Seriously? Even the town admits it didn't do an adequate job. And strengthen the relationship with con edison? I cannot even respond to that suggestion in this forum, because any response would contain lewd and inappropriate suggestions -- because short of anything along those lines, I honestly cannot figure out what you mean? The governor said con ed's performance was a FAILURE. What universe are you living in?
Lori November 09, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Mr Chapin's letter did not seemed to be accurately headlined, as he did not seem to be defending the town's handling of Sandy. He explained what was done, and then said he takes responsibility for any "disappointment" with the town's handling of this matter. It just did not seem defensive to me -- and for anyone who has read my posts, I'm not a big defender of the town. But true is true. The letter did not seem to be a defense, or defensive, to me.
Lori November 09, 2012 at 04:37 PM
David, I agree with much of what you say regarding the nature of utilities. Nevertheless there have been numerous instances of union interference: Electrical crews and truck deliveries of transformers from out of state arriving before the storm were turned away if the refused to join con ed union; because of con edison union rules, out of state crews must stop work at 9 pm; because of anger last july during contract negotiations, when out of state workers filled in for striking con ed workers, the union is demanding that all out of state crews to accompanied by a con ed supervisor, thus many of us have seen out of state crews ready for work just sitting waiting for their con ed baby sitter. These are just a few examples.
Lori November 09, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Creator - yup. What the heck is an "Emergency Operations Center" and what exactly did there. Supervisor Carpenter -- "lets have a meeting to discuss convening a conference where we can break off into working groups where we can meet about forming committees to meet about meeting with other similarly situated entities to form a group to to initiate reaching out to the power providers in a conference setting to spearhead . . . BLAH BLAH BLAH"
Donald Fagen November 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Monday November 12. 7:00 am. 300 Chappaqua families still without power.

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