Scene and Seen: the Impact of Hurricane Irene on Westchester County

As you can imagine, Hurricane Irene was the dominant news story in Westchester County the past week. Workers and businesses were greatly affected, not only by the flooding of major highways like the Hutchinson River Parkway and cancellation of Metro-North train service, but in other ways as well.

An Aug. 27 story in the Journal News details the tough time many businesses had keeping up with demand for hurricane supplies. Grocery and hardware stores in the area ran out of supplies as early as the Friday morning before Irene hit. One hardware store manager said it might be a while before the items are restocked, because suppliers are also running low on inventory.

Approximately 90,000 residences and business owners were without power after the storm, according to an Aug. 29 article in the Journal News. Con Edison warned those affected that it might take several days to restore power to everybody who suffered an outage. Utility companies urged residents to stay away from downed power lines, stressing that contact with them can be deadly.

- Advertisement -

County Executive Rob Astorino spent much of the days after Irene’s departure assessing the damage and offering instruction to residents and businesses. Astorino thanked Westchester residents for their continued cooperation and urged them to be patient as the cleanup continues. Many roads remain closed and power lines down days after the storm, although county buses resumed operation the Monday after the storm. Constant updates continue to be issued through the county’s website, www.westchestergov.com.

Astorino also said the county will ask the federal government for disaster aid. “The damage is significant,” Astorino said. “We are now in the process of documenting the financial cost so that we can obtain any available federal aid.” This effort will be coordinated by the county’s Department of Emergency Services. The department is now working with local municipalities to collect the damage information needed to request federal aid. President Obama declared New York a disaster area even before Hurricane Irene struck. To qualify for aid, the region has to meet a damage threshold of $3 million. Typically, local communities receive a reimbursement of 75 percent of approved claims

Meanwhile, SUNY Purchase has been given the green light by the state to build a retirement community on campus. The “senior learning community” will be built on 40 acres of land in the southwest corner of the Purchase campus, which is currently unused by either the public or the academic community. Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin in the Assembly and Senator Suzi Oppenheimer in the Senate, allowing the college to go ahead with the plans. “It opens the door to enormous possibilities in terms of increasing the number of patrons for The Performing Arts Center and Neuberger Museum of Art, providing a great opportunity for lifelong learning for senior adults, offering quality educational services to the Westchester Community, and spurring economic activity in the local community,” said Thomas J. Schwarz, president of the college. The college plans to use 75% of the revenue from the project for scholarships and 25% to hire more faculty.

Also of note, the Mount Kisco Child Care Center (MKCCC) announced it has received an IBM Catalyst Grant in the amount of $10,000 in recognition of the work that MKCCC and IBM collaborated on in June to further educate MKCCC children as part of the center’s Feed Me Fresh sustainable nutrition program.