When Hurricane Irene struck around this time last year—leaving thousands of Putnam residents without power for days—folks were in need of relief.
Here's a look at how things have changed, or remained the same, in the last year:
- Generators — Neither or was equipped with a generator when Irene hit. Many residents have visited the former to pick up dry ice and charge electronics in the days after recent storms. Supervisor Tony Hay said at a July meeting that he was working with Putnam County to change the generator situation for Southeast.
- NY Alert — This program, which is free and provided by the state, allows different levels of government to communicate with residents who have registered on the site (and requested notifications for emergency situation, traffic problems and more). Town and Village officials plan to start using the program soon, and instruct residents on how to do the same—ideally via a public presentation.
- Shelters — The Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services announced that both the Koehler Senior Center in Mahopac and the Putnam Valley Senior Center were open to residents who were hoping for a shower or a hot meal post-Irene. At regular meetings held in the weeks that followed the storm, local elected leaders expressed disappointment at the fact that Brewster and Southeast residents didn't have a closer shelter option. Several Village of Brewster officials toured the facility in Southeast last week. The 78,000-square-foot building features a kitchen, bathrooms and showers, exercise space and more on three floors. Both of the structure's elevators are hooked up to a generator, which is tested regularly. Mayor Jim Schoenig called HVCPA, a non-profit organization, the "best-kept secret in Putnam County," and Executive Director Howard Yager agreed with him. Yager said he was surprised that no one showed up to seek shelter and take advantage of power during Irene, but added that he's unsure how many people are aware the building exists. The discussion on the public's potential utilization of the space during future storms is expected to continue at next month's Team Brewster meeting, which County Executive MaryEllen Odell is slated to attend.
So, Putnam residents, we want to know, what do you think of all this? Do you believe either Town Hall or Village Hall (or both) should be equipped with a generator? Do you see a need for an additional shelter site? If you haven't already registered with NY-Alert, do you plan to do so? Give us your opinion in the comments section below, please.