Gov. Paterson addressing local officialsIn the aftermath of this weekend’s devastating rain and wind storm, CE Robert P. Astorino met with Gov. Paterson, Con Edison officials and FEMA representatives.

The county’s Department of Emergency Services has begun efforts to qualify the county for federal disaster aid.

“This storm rivaled a hurricane in the toll it took on our homes and businesses,” said Astorino. “We are in the early stages of documenting our losses to see if we can qualify for a presidential emergency declaration and the help it will bring.”  Local governments will be gathering information on storm-related damage and turning these reports over to the county.

The state Superintendent of Insurance has a special hotline for storm-related claims: (800) 339-1759. Those impacted by the storm are advised to take photos of their damage and hold on to receipts that document damage.

At a meeting earlier in the day at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Hawthorne, Astorino briefed Paterson on the damage. The two executives also heard directly from Con Edison on its ongoing efforts to restore power throughout the county. Others present were representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the state police, the county’s police and department of Emergency Services and the state Department of Transportation.

“Con Ed told us that in Westchester and New York City 173,000 customers were without power at some point – more than the number affected by Hurricane Gloria in 1985,” Astorino said. The main cause was not the rain, but the winds that ripped trees from the ground, smashing electric wires.

County officials met with Gov. PatersonAstorino reminded residents to stay away from downed wires and to notify their local police departments of any wires. People without electric power should make sure they notify Con Ed directly by calling (800) 75-CONED; those with access to power may make a report on the company’s Web site: (People should not assume that the utility knows of their outage.)

People without power in the NYSEG area (parts of northern Westchester) should call (800) 572-1131.

For non-emergency matters, residents can call United Way’s 2-1-1 line for help. This helpline will have information about dry ice locations, road closures and any warming centers that may have been set up by local communities. Hours of operations are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. If you have trouble accessing 2-1-1, you may call (800) 899-1479. 

If Westchester is declared a disaster area by President Obama, it could help offset the costs to governments and schools. It is less likely that the county will qualify for aid for homeowners and businesses.

To obtain federal assistance for municipal infrastructure damage, the threshold is $2.9 million in losses.  The state as a whole must document $25 million in losses. The information is forwarded by the state to FEMA and then to the president.