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Storm Prep Bills Seek To Eliminate Glaring Post-Sandy Problems

Let’s learn from this storm before the next one hits, say state lawmakers in the shore’s 10th Legislative District.

Boardwalk in Seaside Park
Boardwalk in Seaside Park (Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen)

Measures introduced today by Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin and state Senator Jim Holzapfel (R-10) aim to reduce food-store spoilage losses, slash power outage delays and toughen terms for looters.

One bill would require automatic standby generators in all newly-built groceries, convenience stores and supermarkets.

“Having this measure in place will help ensure the public has ready access to food and other basic necessities during emergency situations,” said Holzapfel in a prepared statement.

Another measure would eliminate overhead electrical wires strung along utility poles in storm-vulnerable areas, requiring utility companies to bury distribution lines underground.

Electric companies are reluctant to alter their infrastructure patterns, contending that there are just as many complications with underground cables as with those above ground. However, three weeks after Sandy and the Nor’easter just days later, portions of the northern barrier island are still in the dark.

“Such prolonged outages are more than an inconvenience,” said Wolfe. “In many cases, they can be life threatening. They affect everything from the delivery of medical services to access to food and gasoline for our vehicles and generators. Installing power lines underground is a common sense solution to preventing future long-term power outages due to damaging winds, heavy snow and flooding.”

The third proposal would subject anyone convicted of looting during a state of emergency to a mandatory term of six months in prison, or the equivalent in community service. This would be added to existing penalties for the same crimes.

One more measure has actually been stalled in the Legislature since 2006, according to Holzapfel, who introduced it. His bill (S-210/A-400) would ensure operation of certain motor fuel storage, distribution and dispensing facilities in states of emergency. The lawmakers are calling for an immediate vote.

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