The debate rages at all levels, from the barbershop to the halls of Congress: How secure is our country from another terrorist attack? As a corollary, how prepared are our communities?
This year the state senate moved ahead to adopt a complete package of bills relating to emergency preparedness. As the former chairman of a special senate panel set up right after 9-11 to evaluate state and local emergency preparedness, I have a keen interest in making sure our communities are ready to handle an emergency.
The senate passed a comprehensive bundle of legislation that would greatly enhance the ability of state, local governments, businesses, and New York citizens to prepare and respond to any type of catastrophic event, whether man-made or natural, by requiring counties to put preparedness plans into place, establishing standards for evacuating and sheltering nursing homes during emergencies, and increasing penalties for individuals who tamper with power plants.
The senate package covers a wide range of disaster preparedness issues, reflecting a shift in the mission of homeland security to an “all-hazards” approach in which localities must be prepared for all manner of disaster.
The legislative plan passed by the senate contains the following: