This tree came down on a house and car on...

This tree came down on a house and car on Conklin Lane in Huntington during Superstorm Sandy. (Oct. 30, 2012) Credit: Ed Betz

A Huntington task force that analyzed the town's response to superstorm Sandy says the town needs to be better prepared for the next crisis.

In its 78-page report released Monday, the task force makes 33 recommendations, including providing annual staff training in the National Incident Management System, updating antiquated computer operating systems and having separate time sheets for staff working in the town Emergency Operations Center.

It also suggests providing an emergency space plan for displaced employees and making cooperation agreements with other municipalities during disasters.

"The report reaffirms that overall, Town government responded well to Super Storm Sandy," Town Supervisor Frank Petrone, a Democrat, said in an email. "The recommendations in the report can generally be categorized as falling under the heading of highlighting adjustments to policies and procedures that will make the Town's response to the next storm even more effective."

The report says a continual problem during the storm involved chain-of-command issues between relief staff at Town Hall and the emergency staff at the Emergency Operations Center. Another shortcoming was staff having difficulty in distinguishing work hours related to emergency operations from regular town business, which could complicate reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Also, equipment in the Emergency Operations Center was not properly maintained, such as a large printer that lacked ink and paper.

Town board member Mark Mayoka, a Republican, said he suggested some of the recommendations in the report after Tropical Storm Irene, such as a clearer plan between the town and the Long Island Power Authority and making sure the Emergency Operations Center was up to speed.

"The report is a testimony in how unprepared we were as a town to deal with Sandy and its aftermath," Mayoka said. "I think it actually raises more questions, but it is a starting point."

Petrone said the report showed that Islandwide there has to be much more coordination between government and LIPA.

"That was the biggest stumbling block," he said.

At tonight's town board meeting, the board will consider incorporating the task force's findings and recommendations into the town's All Hazards Emergency Operations Plan.

The report can be viewed on the town website, www.huntingtonny.gov.

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