For Immediate Release Media Contacts: Collin Nash and Sid Nathan
North Hempstead’s 311 Call Center Becomes Invaluable Information-Sharing Hub in the Hours Immediately Before, During and After Irene
September 1, 2011 (516) 869-7794
OP-ED By Supervisor Jon Kaiman
Now that Irene has made her unwelcomed visit and left after uprooting trees, submerging basements and roadways and turning out the lights for tens of thousands of Long Islanders, I have the opportunity to take stock of how North Hempstead responded to what turned out to be one of the most damaging storms to hit the area in decades.
Clearly all the departments—Highways, Parks, Buildings, Administrative Services, and Emergency Management, to name a few—that were deployed came through with flying colors.
But one in particular, truly made its mark as an invaluable asset—our 311 Call Center.
Before I go into details about the Call Center’s amazing contributions—not only to North Hempstead residents but also to neighboring municipalities and the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA)—consider this: During the hours beginning mid-afternoon on the eve of the hurricane to Sunday night at 9:00 pm when the Call Center finally took a well-earned breather, our call takers responded to more than 8,000 storm-related calls.
In short, this was an incredibly successful information-sharing moment, one that proved unequivocally that town government can work productively and efficiently for residents in a time of need.
None of this would have been possible of course without the dedication of Town personnel from various other departments who voluntarily joined our regular cadre of call-takers to pull off a marathon around-the-clock campaign.
Responding to residents with the utmost professionalism and dedication to the job, they worked around the clock 24 hours throughout the day and night, responding to a non-stop flow of resident inquiries. They ran the gamut from questions about power outages, blockage of thoroughfares by fallen trees and branches, and live power lines that hung dangerously across fences and rooftops.
But as the only municipality on Long Island with such an information-gathering and disseminating hub, the 311 Call Center served residents beyond our borders. We fielded calls from residents in the towns of Hempstead, Oyster Bay and even points east in Suffolk County. We even dispensed contact information pertaining to questions about downed power lines and outages to LIPA.
Above all though, I would like to thank you, our residents for working with us to heed our call for quick evacuation of potential flood zones and for feeding us with information about fallen trees and branches and other trouble spots on the public right-of way so we could coordinate a quick response.
As we continue to assess the damage in the storm’s aftermath, we urge residents to call 311 if there is any non-emergency matter that the Town of North Hempstead can deal with.
We look forward to assisting you and working to ensure a full recovery from this disruptive visitor, Hurricane Irene.