While the ten-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy brought back painful memories of devastation, it also provided an opportunity to look at all that Putnam County officials and emergency responders have learned in the past decade about keeping the community safe in a disaster, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said.
Fourteen monster storms – hurricanes, tropical storms, winter storms and tornadoes — have struck Putnam since Superstorm Sandy tore through the county in October 2012. These storms brought power outages, road closures and threats to our residents’ safety and property.
“We certainly had a lot of disaster preparedness practice, and with every storm we learned invaluable lessons,” County Executive Odell said. “We managed to keep Putnam residents safe thanks to the county’s Incident Command Team and the fast work of the County Highway Department working with the town highway departments, the local police departments, fire departments and ambulance companies. Different agencies throughout the county and municipalities worked seamlessly together. It was very impressive to watch, and I am so proud of all the county employees and all of our partners in the municipalities who repeatedly performed heroic work for the people of Putnam County.”
County Executive Odell also extended thanks to NYSEG and Central Hudson Gas & Electric for being good partners with the county. In fact, NYSEG has used Putnam County’s storm response model for the rest of the region.
“The lights didn’t always go back on as fast as everyone hoped, but the utilities that serve Putnam County always worked round the clock to get power back as fast as possible,” Odell said.
When power couldn’t be restored quickly, community organizations like the Knights of Columbus, the ELKS Club, the public libraries and more stepped up to help. They set up warming centers and offered charging stations to help those without heat or electricity.
There was a lesson to be learned in every storm. It turned out that the mobilization and coordination between our Health Department and all the municipalities and school districts created a model of cooperation that helped us in ways we could not have anticipated. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the crisis response we developed enabled us to quickly respond countywide with information, data, public testing sites and vaccination sites once the vaccines were available.
“While the pandemic was a completely different kind of emergency, all of these storms helped us develop a system that allowed our first responders, Department of Health and emergency service providers to efficiently set up mass Covid testing and vaccination centers for our residents,” County Executive Odell said. “I have been proud to serve as the Incident Commander for our county who always was ready to rescue and always ready to respond to whatever came our way. I wish all our volunteers safe and healthy times ahead, and I know that as I leave the County Executive’s Office, I leave a county ready to take on anything.
Storms that Impacted Putnam County: