Reynolds: High marks for county’s finest for Irene response

The county’s emergency forces got high marks — deservedly so — after battling what some were calling the worst storm in county history. Old-timers might cite the hurricane of ’55, but that’s now ancient history.
Without our well-trained, well-equipped emergency teams lives would have been lost, officials said. Given the scope and ferocity of the storm the wonder is we escaped relatively unscathed. Greene County suffered three deaths. Cleanup and repair will take weeks, months — maybe years for some unfortunates.
“Leading the Way” County Executive Mike Hein (his 2008 campaign slogan) actually led the way, declaring an emergency last Friday at a time when a lot of people figured Hurricane Irene would follow historic paths and swing out to sea. In fact, meteorologists and scare-monger TV talking heads got it almost exactly right this time.
According to Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum and County Emergency Management Director Art Snyder, county officials met at least twice before the storm reached landfall to coordinate strategies. State agencies jumped in with valuable aid, and of course Central Hudson is used to these kinds of calamities. “Here we go again,” declared Reddy Kilowatt President Jim Laurito at a Monday-morning press conference hosted by Hein in Kingston. He followed that up with an even worse if inadvertent pun: “We flooded the area with response crews.” Thanks, anyway.

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, neither invited nor mentioned at Hein’s jailhouse press conference on Monday, issued a detailed statement later in the day listing various sources of aid and shelter locations. “I decided what we could do best was convey information,” he said the next day.