During emergencies, the City distributes messages broadly via automated phone calls, emails and texts. For this reason, I haven’t independently sent information about Hurricane Sandy through my own website or Facebook posts. But recent email exchanges with a couple of friends remind me that some residents are not receiving the City’s automated bulletins and so, at the risk of duplication, I am sharing through this format the latest emergency news.

Get Connected!

First, if you are a New Rochelle resident and do not receive the City’s automated messages, sign up to get connected. To do so, log on to the City’s website at www.newrochelleny.com, click on the “Connect-CTY Sign Up Now” icon in the lower right, and then follow the prompts. Folks with listed phone numbers are already included, but if you have an unlisted number, then you must affirmatively opt-in to the system. Also, even if you are already receiving automated phone calls, you should sign up now to receive messages via email and text. That way, if you lose power or landline service, you will still receive timely news.

Storm Aftermath: The Good News

As of Tuesday morning, we have no reports of serious injury or loss of life as a result of the storm here in New Rochelle.

Inland flooding has been minimal, thanks to low rainfall totals.

The coastal storm surge was dramatic, but the topography of our shoreline, which gains altitude quickly from the water’s edge, limited the scope of damage, by which I mean the damage was serious, but not catastrophic.

Storm Aftermath: The Bad News

About two-thirds of New Rochelle has lost power, and about 800,000 customers have lost power throughout Con Ed’s service area.

Many trees have fallen, and many roads are presently impassable.

While we don’t yet have any comprehensive handle on property damage, the storm’s toll is likely to be extensive. Our marina and waterfront parks were hit especially hard.

What’s Happening Now

City Police and DPW workers are engaged in constant field inspections to catalogue locations that require attention. We are attempting to identify and secure locations that pose immediate safety hazards. And we are exchanging information with Con Edison. When trees and branches are entangled with power lines, then Con Ed must act first. When power lines are not involved, then we can act on our own.

The federal government has declared Westchester County a disaster area.

What Will Happen Going Forward

Predictions at this point are inherently uncertain, but we should all expect a long slog. A huge swath of the nation has been severely impacted by the storm. As a result, utility resources are spread thin, and the pace of repairs may be slower than all of us would like.

As a general matter, here is how clean-up efforts will be prioritized: (1) ensure public safety with respect to immediate hazards, (2) clear roadway obstructions, beginning with major roads that provide access to essential community facilities like schools, (3) restore electrical service, beginning with repairs likely to restore power for large numbers of people and then moving on to relatively smaller outage clusters.

The City will do everything it can to advocate for a swift and efficient response to conditions, but we do not have the authority to issue orders to utility companies. For this reason and because of the general circumstances referenced above, I advise people to expect the worst. If you don’t have power, you should anticipate being out for several days at least, and you should plan accordingly.

We do not yet have information from Con Ed on dry ice distribution, but it is likely that dry ice will be available this week. The City will publicize details once they are set.

Advice & Contact Information

Report Power Outages: It is essential to report power outages to Con Edison at 1-800-75-CONED or via the Internet at www.coned.com. Don’t assume that your location has been reported. Be sure to get your address registered on Con Ed’s system.

Report Downed Trees & Power Lines: To report downed trees or other hazardous conditions, please call the City’s Emergency Operations Center at 914-740-6118. In the event that you do not reach anyone at this number, then call our Police Desk at 914-654-2300. (The Police Desk is staffed 24/7.)

Use Common Sense: Assume downed power lines are live and stay clear of them! Don’t travel more than necessary. If you must trick-or-treat on Halloween, do so in daylight hours only, make sure all children are accompanied by adults, and exercise extreme caution near potential hazards.

Be Neighborly: Please remember to check in on neighbors who may have special needs or challenges.

In Conclusion

I will be relying on the City’s official bulletin system to distribute information, rather than posting additional storm news on my website. So I will close as I began by urging you to sign up for our municipal emergency communications.

That’s about it for now. It’s going to be a long week. Stay safe.