Letter: New Castle Official Discusses Response To Sandy

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New Castle Town Board member Jason Chapin says Con Edison provided only one crew to the town during the first four days after Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser / File

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. ‒ The Chappaqua Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to chappaqua@dailyvoice.com.

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 Nita Lowey, Assemblyman Robert Castelli, County Executive Rob Astorino and County Legisator Mike 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 prepare 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

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