State launches disaster preparedness program

Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosts an emergency preparedness seminar

Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosts an emergency preparedness seminar at Farmingdale State College on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. (Credit: Johnny Milano)

Four feet of water flooded Joan Ensulo's Lindenhurst home during superstorm Sandy, causing more than $90,000 in damage and the loss of irreplaceable personal items.

If there is another major storm, Ensulo plans to be ready.

"I want to do everything I can to be prepared for the next one," said Ensulo, who was among more than 600 Long Islanders Saturday at a state-run disaster preparedness training seminar at Farmingdale State College.


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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who kicked off the inaugural Citizen Preparedness Corps Training Program, said its aim is to help residents become "first responders" in their homes, protecting family, friends and neighbors.

"We want to make sure you have the training you need," Cuomo said. "You will be an asset in your own home and in your community."

The state plans to host disaster workshops throughout the year -- a similar event was held Saturday in Staten Island -- with the goal of providing emergency management training for up to 100,000 New Yorkers.

Members of the state's National Guard, which led the 90-minute seminar in Farmingdale, instructed residents on the supplies needed during an evacuation, including water, batteries, a pocket radio, a first-aid kit and a flashlight. The supplies, officials said, should last seven to 10 days.

Additional guidance was focused on developing a family emergency plan, following proper evacuation routes and ensuring that smoke detectors and fire extinguishers work.

"The groundwork you are laying today will pay dividends down the road," said Brig. Gen. Raymond Shields, the New York National Guard's director of joint staff.

Edward Harrold of Hauppauge, a retired shop teacher at Suffolk County BOCES, said he attended the seminar "to give back to my community and volunteer. I want to know how to prepare to help my neighbors and my community."

But Barbara Schaffer, whose Lindenhurst home is uninhabitable 15 months after Sandy, said local and state governments need to improve their communication to better advise residents on storm preparations.

"I don't feel like anyone is ready for the next storm," Schaffer said. "I feel like municipalities need more training on how to get the word out to us about evacuations."

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