By Stephen Bronner.
New York State will soon be able to send mass text messages to phones in a specific area before, during or after an emergency.The NY-Text system was implemented with a recently signed law (Ch.101 of 2013) that also modernizes how state of special emergencies are declared. It also helps coordinate emergency resources.
As part of the law, mobile service providers will be granted immunity for any consequences resulting from the text or failure to transmit an emergency alert when the provider acted reasonably and in good faith. This removes a barrier to contracting with potential providers as the state puts this alert system in place, according to a state press release.
“We are making sure New York is better prepared for the new reality that our state will face extreme and devastating storms far more often than ever before,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “Improving our ability to prepare for and respond to future disasters is key and this legislation is an important step forward in these efforts.”
Previously, the law required a sheriff to notify the governor by telegram when declaring a state of special emergency – a provision that hasn’t been amended in almost 50 years, according to Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), who sponsored the legislation. This law updates the notification process, allowing notifications to be made using fax or other electronic methods ensuring quicker response time for Nassau County residents.
Under the new law, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will be allowed to accept assistance, in the forms of gifts and services – excluding money – from a public or private source in order to prepare for, respond to, or recover from an emergency disaster. A public database will be maintained to include names of donors and recipients, the type of assistance given, and the value of the assistance.
It also consolidates the NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) into the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES). This authorizes the state fire administrator to set regulations and rules necessary to implement the state fire mobilization and mutual aid plan.
“Powerful storms that used to happen once every 100 years are now more common for New Yorkers,” Weisenberg said. “Our families here at home are all too familiar with the devastation — it’s vital that the state be as prepared as possible to respond to future storms, natural disasters or other emergencies.”