(Poughkeepsie) Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus and CH Energy Group Chairman of the Board, President and CEO Steven V. Lant, along with members of both organizations senior management teams, sat down today to review the response to the February snowstorms that created emergency conditions and widespread power outages throughout Dutchess County. The meeting was an opportunity to find ways to further partner to strengthen communication, collaboration and response during future emergencies.
“Each of our organizations has the same goal: to work together to better serve our mutual customers, the residents of Dutchess County,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “We appreciated all of the hard work and dedication of Central Hudson’s employees during these historic storms. Now it is important to look back and review what we have learned so we can continue to improve our response to future events.”
Lant provided the County Executive and his county team with a review of Central Hudson’s storm response, and he thanked them for the opportunity to help gather important feedback for Central Hudson’s formal assessment of its performance that is due to the New York State Public Service Commission on May 3. The discussion led into many of the best practices utilized during the storms, as well as the “lessons learned.” Lant cited better damage assessment, enhanced communication with municipal officials and early retention of mutual aid assistance as examples of how the utility improved its performance.
“Many of the lessons we learned from prior storms, such as the December 2008 ice storm in northern Dutchess County, resulted in improved procedures in February. Two out of three of our customers lost electric service as a result of these back-to-back storms, creating the largest storm event in our more than century-long history and requiring us to mobilize the largest force we’ve ever managed -- with more than 1,500 people deployed to restore service in less than a week’s time,” Lant said. “But we could not have made that progress without the help of municipal partners like those in Dutchess County who worked alongside us to clear roadways and restore vital services to our communities.”
County Executive Steinhaus shared insight with the Central Hudson team about the County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activation and the coordinated storm response directed from it. The County’s EOC was in operation for more than 100 hours during the storms and had representation from numerous county organizations including Public Works, Sheriff’s Office, Mass Transit, Health & Human Services departments and the Medical Reserve Corps as wells as New York State Police and other agencies such as the American Red Cross. The EOC served as the coordination center for road updates, overnight shelter arrangements, warming center information, transportation needs and much more.
Key points of discussion focused on ways to improve communications. The County’s EOC can provide a tremendous amount of information to Central Hudson thanks to a coordinated communication capacity. This information is extremely valuable for operational planning during storms. Additionally, having additional insight to Central Hudson’s work priorities should allow the County to allocate resources where they will be able to provide maximum return.
Following the meeting, County Executive Steinhaus led the Central Hudson team on a tour of the Emergency Operations Center as well as the 911 Dispatch Center.
“Although we hope the February storms were ‘once in a lifetime’ events that we will not see repeated, there are lessons to be learned that can be applied to the next storm. We appreciate Central Hudson’s commitment to working together with us for an even better storm response in the future,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.