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Hochul says state is preparing for hurricane season

Charles Krupa

New York Governor Kathy Hochul met with the heads of the major downstate utilities in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season, she wants to make sure everyone is prepared as possible for any potential extreme weather.

Hochul spoke on Long Island, 10 years after Superstorm Sandy, a monster hurricane that killed 233 people in the U.S. and the Caribbean, including 53 New Yorkers.

There have been numerous damaging storms since then, including Hurricane Ida, which hit New York City just days after Hochul took office last August. Record amounts of rainfall flooded basement apartments and killed 17 New Yorkers.

“People literally had to break windows to escape the rising water in their homes,” Hochul said. “It was terrifying.”

The storms have not been confined to downstate. In 2011, Hurricanes Irene and Tropical Storm Lee devastated sections of upstate New York.

Water levels in Lake Ontario have risen sharply over the past decade and there’s been record breaking flooding.

The governor met with the heads of local utilities, including PSEG and LIPA. The utilities were criticized after Sandy for not being prepared for the devastation and for being slow to restore power to the over 2 million homes that were affected. Hochul said the utilities have installed better computer systems and conducted training sessions for staff, as well as fortifying switches, and burying and raising up power lines. But under questioning from reporters, Hochul did not express complete confidence in the utilities.

“I live with concerns,” Hochul said. “That is the nature of being governor.”

Hochul said she hopes that a $4.2 billion environmental bond act on November’s ballot will be approved by voters. It would provide funding for flood risk reduction and restoration of flooded areas, and provide money to build more storm resilient infrastructure as well as greener buildings to avert more global warming.

“We are the first generation to truly feel the effects of climate change,” Hochul said. “And we are the last generation to (effectively) do anything about it.”

So far this year, no major hurricanes have yet been predicted. In fact, the region is suffering from another form of extreme weather — lack of rain. Hochul spoke in Suffolk County, where the South Shore of Long Island is under a severe drought warning.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.