It’s estimated that 81,820 households reported $387 million in losses to insurance companies; 4,245 commercial properties reported $14 million in losses; 34,602 personal automobiles and 909 commercial vehicles damaged or destroyed and more than 600 registrants had to check into local hotels and motels.
Ed Mangano tapped into little known state and federal grants to purchase modern communications equipment, and systematically arranged for the evacuation and sheltering of thousands of residents including those from hospitals and nursing homes, before Sandy made landfall.
In fact, Mangano received a state award for his leadership before, during and after Sandy. And last week, for the first time ever, Nassau County earned the status of "storm ready" by the National Weather Service.
Under the prior administration, the State Senate's Committee on Homeland Security had given Nassau County a grade of "F" for overall Disaster preparedness, specifically for lacking critical communications, evacuation and sheltering plans. This after hearing testimony from National Weather Service, Long Island Power Authority, fire departments, American Red Cross and New York State, City and Long lsland emergency management experts. It was 2006 and although there were some emergency shelters identified, none had generators. Nassau’s archaic emergency communication system had no backup.
In 2011 – one year into his term - County Executive Mangano discovered that much work was needed to actually make Nassau Community College viable as an emergency shelter to accommodate 1,000 special needs residents, if needed. Had Hurricane Earl hit our area at that time, before the repairs and preparations were done, it would have been devastating. There were no disaster-prevention maintenance systems in place under former County Executive Suozzi - no portable generators, operational satellite phones, etc.
Under County Executive Mangano, the Office of Emergency Management purchased operational satellite phones and radios for every county department head. And they bought it with government grant funds, which had been available all along.
PRE-SANDY LANDFALL PLANNING
Beginning 3 days before Sandy, and continuing for several weeks after, County Executive Mangano brought in agencies, manpower and vehicles from around the County and across the country. He ordered a mandatory evacuation for those in low-lying areas and “flood zones,” more than 24-hours before Sandy made landfall. Some say his safety tips and evacuations very likely saved lives. Almost immediately, County Executive Mangano sent his ordinance staff to join a small number of Red Cross volunteers and open up shelters to receive the evacuees. Part of the County’s sheltering plan was an agreement with NICE bus to transport evacuees to shelters. Mangano put out robo calls in the 48 hours before Sandy made landfall, urging people who were not in evacuation zones to plan for power outages, and create their own Friends & Family Sheltering Plan in the event of a major disaster.
Mangano requested 50 ambulances from around the state to evacuate Long Beach Hospital and neighboring nursing homes on the Barrier Islands, preventing what could have been multiple tragedies. He realized that he couldn’t further tax the local first responders and EMT agencies to do the evacuation because they needed to tend to their own affected homes and families. The ambulances stayed in place - Island Park, Point Lookout and Long Beach - months after Sandy hit.
Mangano also requested several high-axle vehicles for the South Shore communities, which were able to drive through deep waters to rescue people, if necessary. He brought in the Army Corp of Engineers, and the agency continues to review the area flood plains and evacuation routes.
RESOURCES IN SANDY’S IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH
Nassau County OEM’s Emergency Operations Center served as the command center for representatives for all town, village, state, federal and out of state agencies involved, including the Red Cross, FEMA, and the National Weather Service.
Mangano opened warming centers for those without power; set up disaster recovery centers, staffed with representatives with various agencies that provide relief; arranged for donations of supplies from Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, etc and was able to distribute them to residents in their damaged homes as well as to evacuees in shelters – items such as: baby diapers, towels, blankets, pillows, glucose monitors, cleaning supplies, clothing, toiletries. Nassau OEM distributed thousands of water bottles to residents. Mangano secured state and federal grants to purchase generators so gas stations could re-open and ease the increased demand for gasoline. Portable traffic signals and light towers were deployed into communities.
In additional to displaced residents’ shelters, there was a special needs shelter, an orthodox shelter, and a pet shelter that remained open several months after Sandy hit. Mangano made available to residents, portable showers and portable washer and dryer stations.
One of OEM’s command vehicles served as a temporary Long Beach City Hall until well after Thanksgiving. It was equipped with full, operational communications: phone, fax, Internet, satellite, etc. An NCPD command vehicle served as temporary police command post for months after the storm. The County lent out its own surplus vehicles to the most affected areas.
For weeks, the County’s public works officials removed fallen trees and cleared roadways - spending over $95 million in debris removal alone.
Mangano opened a Nassau County Business Recovery Center that offered impacted businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales tax exemptions on rebuilding materials, and assistance with Loan applications and state and federal resources.
Mangano directed the Nassau County IDA to help ensure that “seasonal” businesses along the shores were able to open by or about Memorial Day. The IDA helped save 127 Nassau businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales tax on rebuilding materials - including 4 in Atlantic Beach; 4 in Baldwin; 4 in East Rockaway; 21 in Freeport; 4 in Inwood; 19 in Island Park; 2 in Lawrence; 1 in Lido Beach; 25 in Long Beach; 6 in Massapequa; and 17 in Oceanside;
In Freeport alone, Nassau County generated over $9 million in economic impact for the local economy during the post-Sandy summer season, by helping re-build and reopen many of the seasonal businesses along the Nautical Mile. The IDA saved 21 of those Freeport businesses, a total of $781,668 in sales tax for rebuilding materials.
Immediately after Sandy hit, Mangano ordered emergency repairs to the Bay Park Sewage Plant to divert sewage from continuing to flow into people’s homes and, afterward, had staff clean out dozens of homes in the area, which had been infiltrated by raw sewage. Mangano also coordinated volunteer efforts to help other homeowners with “muck outs,” mold removal and moldicide application.
County Executive Mangano and the Nassau County Assessor developed a Post-Hurricane Sandy Assessment Stabilization Plan, designed to provide assessment relief for property owners negatively impacted by the hurricane. Lowering the assessed value of a home that was destroyed or badly damaged by the storm, would mean a lower property tax payment for the resident. He also extended the Assessment Grievance Deadline by four months.
Nassau Police arrested 61 unlicensed contractors who preyed on, and sometimes “ripped off” victims of Sandy. Police seized over 50 vehicles during the sting operation and collected fines worth over $100,000.
Not wanting to disappoint children who had already lost so much, the County Executive and his staff quickly put together a huge Halloween celebration at the Executive building in Mineola.
POST-STORM PREVENTION MITIGATION
The County now has food contracts in place to feed those in its emergency shelters, as volunteer efforts took too much time. All ordinance employees, including all those in the County Executive’s office, have been trained in sheltering operations, shelter management and warehouse operations, as needed to get supplies out to affected victims. OEM Disaster Relief trailers, stocked with emergency supplies, have been strategically placed around the county.
The Nassau IDA held a business preparedness seminar, for businesses throughout the county. And, Mangano’s office continues to work on waterway debris removal plans.
FIGHTING FOR WHAT’S DUE NASSAU
Beginning 3 days before Sandy, and continuing for several weeks after, County Executive Mangano was on the phone with the Governor 2 to 3 times a day, and with the President of the United States, once or twice a week – fighting for the needs of Nassau County.
With LIPA so behind in getting residents’ power turned back on, Mangano helped create an emergency program whereby FEMA would bring in contractors to perform basic repairs so residents could return home with power and heat, while long term repairs were in progress. That Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program helped 830 Nassau families.
Before Sandy, the Bay Park Sewage Plant was operating better than it had in decades after the Mangano administration invested more than $70 million to reverse damage done by neglect. Post Sandy, Mangano has requested $722 million to repair Bay Park and ensure the long-term safety of the residents and the environment. But despite expert testimony as to the critical need for the improvements, the Democratic minority agreed to provide just $262 million.
Mangano continues to fight for $17.2 million in promised federal aid to help with superstorm Sandy’s massive debris-removal effort.
Last month, he helped change FEMA policy that was denying Sandy victims reimbursement through an insurance loophole. It’s an exclusion, in standard flood policies, that denies payment for loss of property caused directly by earth movement -- even if the movement was caused by a flood.
Mangano also helped get $625,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to the City of Long Beach to rebuild beaches, damaged parks, streetscapes and community centers; to purchase a handicapped accessible bus and to expand seniorprograms.
Nassau County will house trailers filled with vital resources, for use in case of an emergency, in each of the 19 legislative districts- as an additional protective measure.Each trailer is fully equipped with cots, blankets, linens and various hygiene supplies.
STILL TRYING TO HELP RAISE MONEY
He started the NHRF in late November and has so far given $1,000 grants to 100 Nassau families; and Home Depot gift cards to another 24 affected families. The money was raised through various fundraisers held by Mangano’s staff.