Saturday, September 3, 2011

Roosevelt Island Hurricane Irene Media Briefing From RIOC, Reviews Staff Performance During Storm, Assesses Damage After Storm and Lessons Learned For The Future - Are We Prepared For An Emergency Evacuation?

You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Hurricane Irene Briefing From RIOC

 On the afternoon of Friday September 2, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez provided a post Hurricane Irene briefing for the Roosevelt Island media - myself and David Stone of the Main Street WIRE. Mr. Martinez provided a brief statement reviewing RIOC's operations during the storm and it's aftermath. Mr. Martinez then took questions from Mr. Stone and myself. Questions were asked and comments discussed concerning:
  • the existence and feasibility of a Roosevelt Island disaster emergency evacuation plan, 
  • the extent and cost of damage to Roosevelt Island, 
  • damage to the Smallpox Hospital, Lighthouse and Southpoint Park,
  • what lessons were learned,
  • public safety incidents during the storm,
  • problems with the phone and communications systems,
  • retail stores closed prior to storm,
  • red bus and tram operations,
  • where was RIOC President Torres during the storm,
  • use of the RI311 See Click Fix system to report problems,
  • RIOC's use of their social media to distribute information during the storm and
  • damage to RIOC staff personal property.
Earlier that morning, Mr. Martinez and RIOC staff conducted a post Hurricane Irene briefing

Image From RIHS President Judy Berdy

for RIOC Directors Sal Ferrera and Fay Christian as well as Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matt Katz, Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance, Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy and Assembly Member Micah Kellner's staffer Robert Atterbury at Lighthouse Park.

Image from RIHS President Judy Berdy

I asked Mr. Katz to comment on the briefing he received. Mr. Katz replied:
While the meeting was very complementary to the RIOC staff, we agreed that questions of how and when to implement safe evacuation procedures remained to be addressed. In addition, the unexpected loss of telephone lines to both RIOC and Public Safety negated the presence of their personnel all weekend in both offices. This was an eventuality that couldn’t be anticipated, but certainly contingency plans for the loss of landlines must be considered prior to the next major weather event.
Both myself and the WIRE reporter were originally invited to attend the morning briefing with RIOC Directors at Lighthouse Park but received emails two hours before it was scheduled to start that the briefing had been rescheduled for later in the day. When I arrived for the rescheduled briefing at RIOC Headquarters, I was advised that the Directors Briefing had already occued and that I was attending a separate media briefing.

UPDATE 9/4 - I asked Ms. Berdy for  a comment on the briefing she attended. Ms. Berdy replied:
I was invited to the 11 a.m. briefing at the Lighthouse where Mr. Martinez recapped RIOC's actions before, during and after Hurricane Irene. The executive staff of RIOC was present, though they were silent. I complemented all the management present and I am happy that they were here to oversee the safety of the Island.

The communications with all residents is an ongoing problem. Between e-mails, facebook and the Internet, many are still out of information. RIOC had to be reminded to post paper notices advising of the situation.

Thanks to Mr. Ferrera for offering the gym of the Child School for sheltering space. (This will be an ongoing project since there are a lot of conditions to follow to become a "shelter."

I am most upset that the "worker-bees" are not recognized. I want to thank the laborers who, moved fallen trees, cleaned storm drains, moved heavy equipment, readied the parks and roadways and were out there getting wet and dirty before, during and after the storm. Thanks to the PSD officers who tried to keep our roving neighbors from walking under dangerous and newly fallen trees.

Thanks to the building staffs of all the housing that stayed here and made sure their residents were safe and sound in their apartments.

Happily, the Tram re-opened before any NYC mass transit on Sunday afternoon, due to the fact that the tram staff was there all night and immediately set about testing and getting the system up on Sunday.

I am most distressed that RIOC President Leslie Torres left on a trip just before the storm. As a President and CEO of a private corporation she would have been expected (and would have) returned to her desk and been on scene for an urgent situation such as hurricane preparation.

There is no excuse for her absence. Her staff performed very well without her, but she is the boss and it is her job to be here.


WhatNow said...

At around 9:05, Mr.Martinez is spot on with rude residents who don't listen to public safety.

Absolutely ridiculous.

Coming from a background of police in my family and telling them the horror stories of the wonderful(not) youth on the island, disrespecting adults and carefree parenting, its pretty obvious to make public safety into a real police department. Besides, not for nothing, who listens to a uniformed officer with PUBLIC SAFETY written on their shirt, and no gun? This isn't England, it's New York City.

Nobody to Blame said...

I am sorry but the times where the "boss" has to lead the troops physically are over. Torres' staff did an awesome job and her physical presence was absolutely unnecessary. I am very sure she is always reachable 24/7 by her staff in case she is needed.

Zoilita said...

I was pleasantly surprised that praise was sent to the entire RIOC Staff for a job well done.  They definitely deserve it.  Our Island was kept better than anywhere else in the City.  Aside from the occasional negativity from fellow residents, I'm very proud to live here.

Roozevelt said...

Wow... at a time when kudos should be given to the RIOC Staff - deservedly so, Matt Katz & Judy Birdy still have the innate ability to be disrespectful.  What do they expect?  Not only do we islanders reap all the City benefits, but we also reap the State benefits in the form of services provided by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. 

Who cares if the President was on vacation.  Thoses things are planned in advance, and if she flew somewhere with her family, I hope they had a nice time.  Everyone WHO WORKS needs a vacation.  But, since Matt & Judy don't have real jobs, they don't understand that concept.

RIOC, you folks are too nice.  I wouldn't have wasted the invitation on Matt Katz & Judy Birdy.  They are just residents - like the rest of us.  We don't need to bother you with stupid questions or comments.  All we have to do is watch the news, and follow the directions of your wonderful advisories.

RooseveltIslander said...

It is difficult to understand why legitimate questions raised by knowledgeable and concerned Roosevelt Island residents about emergency evacuation plans and the presence of the RIOC President during an anticipated major hurricane would not be welcomed by a resident such as yourself.

Asking questions of State employees like RIOC and keeping them accountable to the community that they serve is not disrespectful at all but a service to all members of the community.

If you live on Roosevelt Island, why would you see it otherwise?

NYPDonRI said...

People are mugged in front of the train, there are gang fights here in front of the Trellis, theft is on th rise here...Roosevelt Island does not need a security partol company, we need NYPD. There is gang activity here, robberies, theft, guns are found on youth here and there is growth here that warrants the police being here. The state of NY needs to take of the blinders that RI is safe and Mayberry is part of NYC and NYPD are needed here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mamabird said...

If RI does not get NYPD soon, it will be too late to show we do not tolerate crime here. Criminals, drug dealers and the like will move in by the droves as fast as this island is growing so we need to take control now and put NYPD here...train the PSD to carry a gun and protect us and our chldren better!!!!! We pay too too much to RIOC to live in fear!

ScaredtoliveonRI said...

ALL MEMBERS OF RIOC SHOULD LIVE ON RI and then maybe they would drive the gangs and their families off the island !!! TRAIN PSD TO CARRY AND USE A GUN OR BRING IN NYPD !!!!! We have a gang living here and it is well known now. WE ALL pay too much to live here to NOT have a police force. A security company does not make me feel safe living here with crime on the rise here and the fact a gang lives here and is tolerated is beyond me..if there is a horrible situation to happen to us here, we are stranded with gang actvity...looting and crime will be everywhere...what would PSD do then? 

Nostradamus said...

On one hand they are not a security company as they make full fledged arrests just like nypd and are, by law, law enforcement officers.

On the other RIOC does treat them like security by not giving them the training and tools that they need.

Can someone bring this to the attention of RIOC or the RIOC BOARD to present arming psd? This has gone on way too long and really, this is the 21st century.

Also, for almost every drime on the island, I have to give kudos and say psd is on the ball and catches their man. The cameras help a lot, so does the act they know every resident bad ass here and know what door to knock on.

We are very unique in that sense. And we do NOT NEED NYPD HERE. Why? Because they won't bother to know the regulars, they will only be summons machines. This island is no place for a nypd police officer, it's boring, unless chasing squirrels is fun?

In conclusion, I totally agree on strict training like nypd and arming PSD so they can be a real law enforcement agency.

Good luck PSD,it's only going to get worst.

Anonymous said...

PSD caught the guy for the robbery, knew the kid by description and arrested him, so where the beef?

PSD arrested the kid with a gun in February, so again, what's wrong with psd?

PSD dispersed the gang fight and made several arrests, so what did they do wrong?
I don't see a damn thing anywhere that nypd did the above. You can put all the nypd here and hire another 200 psd officers, in reality, they can't be in every single location on the island. PSD did install a booth by the train, did you see that? I say thats a positive step forward in approach at least. Another prevention is for people to stop playing with their cell phones and electronics while walking in a desolate area. Common sense, no?

There comes the shaking again said...

I am sorry but I really do not see why Torres had to be present. She was reachable if needed. There is this new-fangled thing like 21st century communication technologies... I believe things like this blog fall under it as well. What would her presence do? Her staff was here and did a very good job. Whatever Torres is doing she's doing it well.

Do we really have to have hand-holding to get through a tropical storm?

Hyperbole said...

Hyperbole at its finest. This island has been around long enough. I haven't seen criminals "moving in by the droves."

an islander said...

Maybe the problem with American business is that we let the boss go away and do not hold them responsible.  It sounds like our mayor who was in Bermuda for the blizzard, but was in touch.
See how better the City ran when he was here for the hurricane.
The RIOC staff did fine, but the captain should be at the helm of th ship.  That is what the get the big bucks for.

Another Islander said...

The captain gets the big bucks because he is ultimately responsible for what's going down. If the captain trusts his crew that they can do without him physically present, more power to him. He still earns his money because he seems to be a great leader and motivator and doesn't let his staff down. 

Another Islander said...

Oh, and he can focus on other "big picture" things instead of managing operations. That's what he gets paid for as well.

BackTothenofuture said...

Yeah I love the fact that the psd chief has his handy dandy gun tied to his hip but his officers barely carry a sufficient self defense tool.

Good job RIOC and public safety for going backwards.

Roozevelt said...

Pay attention fool... The RIOC Board is responsible for approving RIOC expenditures of over $50,000.  Purchasing firearms, ammunition and training costs more than that.  Maybe the fact that the P.S.D. don't carry is because the RIOC Board Members, that we voted for, don't want them.  Do what I do, next time you see a RIOC Board Member, ask them to approve firearms for PSD.  Then maybe we'll get somewhere.  But, until then, there will only be 2 on staff that can carry.

Roozevelt said...

I do live here, and just because I don't see this topic the way you do, doesn't mean I don't care.  I agree that we should ask questions and keep State employees acccountable.  But, I just don't like the way your friends speak with an entitled and disrespectful tone.  They act like they speak for everyone that lives here, and they don't. 

I could care less if the President is here or not - as long as the job gets done.  That's for someone else to watch.  I guess because you also don't have a real job, you feel the need to side with the Island "know-it-alls".

Theohiostate said...

Careful Roozy, you might get your comment deleted by the Blog Administrator.  For the record, I think he does a decent job reporting the Island news, but I do agree Katz & Berdy walk around like they own the place.

Shook said...

That's a shame.

Oh well. That's Roosevelt island for you. Go back, never forward.

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