MINORITY LEADER JAMES N. TEDISCO
December 13, 2008
As hundreds of thousands of families across the Capital Region remain stranded without power after a destructive ice storm swept through the area, Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) today renewed his call for creation of a statewide program to assist the most vulnerable in the event of an emergency. The accumulated ice left in the storm’s wake downed power lines, snapped tree limbs, made roads impassable and forced many area municipalities to declare states of emergency.
Tedisco called for passage of his legislation, Assembly Bill A.5806, which would establish a "State Emergency Assistance Database" (S.E.A.D.). The measure would require, rather than authorize, County governments to maintain a registry of disabled persons to be used for disaster preparedness, and to include senior citizens within the S.E.A.D. registry. Tedisco’s bill, introduced in 2007, would direct the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) to collect the County disaster preparedness registries for inclusion in the new state database.
The initiative would expand upon an existing state program, where counties are authorized to maintain a registry of their most vulnerable populations, and requires those counties which were not doing so to now commence. If enacted, the bill would establish a statewide directory made up of all of the County registries, which could then be used for planning purposes by SEMO, shared with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), agencies from other states arriving to offer help, or agencies within New York State government. The legislation respects the privacy of those who would prefer not to be registered by allowing the program to be voluntary for individuals.
Like thousands across the Capital Region, Tedisco’s 93-year-old mother lost power and heat at her Town of Rotterdam home yesterday and called him for assistance. She has been staying with Tedisco until electricity and heat are restored at her residence.
"When my 93-year-old mother called me, worried about being stranded without power in this bitter winter cold, I was able to go to her, so she could stay at my home. But a question she asked stuck with me: what about the thousands of people throughout our community who don’t have someone to check in on, or look after, them?" Tedisco asked.
"Her words and the severity of this recent ice storm prompted me to renew my call for a statewide emergency database to ensure some of the most vulnerable across our community have the assistance they need during a time of crisis. Helping people who have lost power and heat isn’t a partisan issue. This legislation is worthy of bi-partisan support and would give some additional peace of mind to the most vulnerable who often bear the brunt of winter ice storms and other natural disasters," Tedisco concluded.