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What A Mess: Feds’ Sandy Fiasco

The feds weren’t ready to handle even the most basic needs of their own workers as Hurricane Sandy walloped the region last fall, records obtained by The Post reveal.

Government officials requested emergency-communication equipment as the storm bore down — but never got it, the records show.

They were left to talk to one another and Washington, DC, over personal cellphones after their government-issued equipment — satellite phones and all — failed.

And as night fell, they had to try to bribe hotel owners with generators to get rooms for evacuees and responders.

Backhoes work in Breezy Point, Queens, yesterday, clearing the remains of homes that went up in flames during Hurricane Sandy

The storm was far harder for feds to deal with than Hurricane Katrina, which battered New Orleans in 2005, the documents say.

Although the property losses from Katrina were more costly, Sandy hit the metro area’s most critical government buildings, knocking out command centers for disaster-response agencies.

The federal government “had a higher concentration of federal facilities to protect and restore after the storm passed,” General Services Administration spokesman Dan Cruz told The Post.

“Our regional headquarters were in the path of the storm. Ninety percent of our GSA employees were in the path of the storm.”

The GSA provided The Post with hundreds of pages of Sandy-related records in response to a Freedom of Information request.

The agency runs federal buildings and is responsible for supplying emergency-relief gear.

Among the GSA’s findings:

* A mobile cell tower requested from DC was never dispatched.

* FEMA’s command center at the Earle Naval Station in Monmouth County, NJ, lost all power in the storm. And for more than a day, staffers there were stuck using personal smartphones to get online because their government-issued equipment was useless.

* The GSA was tasked to find a “major hotel chain” that was without power. “FEMA will provide [a] generator if they reserve rooms for responders and evacuees,” officials were told.

* Amid the crisis, bureaucrats squabbled over budget rules and who was in charge of signing contracts to get supplies in place.

The documents lay out a plan for fixing emergency responses.

“There were lessons learned from protecting and restoring one of the highest density and concentrations of federal facilities in the country,” Cruz said.

Source: NY Post

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Posted by on February 18, 2013. Filed under NY News,Slider. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.