Legislative responses to Sandy begin to coalesce

TRENTON – State lawmakers are beginning to take steps to address post-Sandy recovery.

The first of a series of hearings into the rebuilding process will take place Nov. 26 at the Toms River Municipal Complex.

A bipartisan group announced the hearings will be set in areas hard hit by the super storm.

“So-called ‘hundred year storms’ now seem to be happening every year and we need to be better prepared,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney in a release.

In addition, Senate Republican Leader Thomas Kean Jr. said that “Before the Legislature can address any needs or deficiencies in New Jersey’s storm response infrastructure, we need to first listen to the citizens and leaders of the communities hardest hit.”

The hearings will encompass a wide variety of issues, including ensuring that voters are not disenfranchised during such major weather events.

In addition, state Sen. Ronald Rice, (D-28), Newark, said he would introduce a bill mandating that residential facilities for seniors have back-up generators in place.

“While Hurricane Sandy and the follow-up snow storm caused billions of dollars in property damage throughout New Jersey, they also served as the ultimate test for the systems that we have in place to protect New Jerseyans during severe weather conditions,” Rice said in a release.

Also, a group of legislators said they will launch a campaign to minimize future power outages.

Union County Democrats Sen. Ray Lesniak and Assembly members Joe Cryan and Annette Quijano said they launched “Never Again,’’ a campaign to secure the power supply and help minimize future blackouts.

The lawmakers sent a letter to power companies asking, among other things, for assessments and evaluations to ensure a tree pruning program is in place, install smart meters that can alert companies when and where power is lost; and require redundancy systems to redirect power when generating stations go down.

“While many residents understood the toll that the storm took on the state, they also recognize that blackouts can be minimized by taking steps in advance to correct the deficiencies along our power grid,” said Cryan in a release announcing the effort.

Legislative responses to Sandy begin to coalesce