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Chamber Notes: Officer of Emergency Management Presentation

Port Washington Chamber of Commerce co-President Warren Schein opened the group’s November meeting by welcoming a new member – Confidence, Inc. and Product Development Manager Brooks Leigh. They are a nutrition supplement manufacturer and retailer located at 138 Haven Avenue.

Schein then sadly advised that in October the chamber lost two people who were very connected to the business community. Catherine O’Neill’s husband, John, passed away. Catherine asked Schein to send thanks to all her friends at the chamber for their support. Another great person, Bill Solomon, passed away. Bill was very active in the chamber and other organizations such as Pride in Port and CancerCare. Schein learned that Bill raised more money for CancerCare than any other single person. They will be truly missed.

Updating the status of the community cookbook, Chamber Executive Director Bobbie Polay said, “The work is progressing. We have participation from many local restaurants and many residents.” She reminded everyone to contribute a recipe or more. Your name and, if you wish, your business or organization name will be listed with each recipe that is published. Recipe forms are at the chamber. Call 883-6566.

The chamber’s annual SOUPer Bowl will be on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the United Methodist Church, Schein advised. He said “We need a lot of volunteers that day to set up, serve and clean up.”

Chamber of Commerce co-President Richard Strautman said he heard that La Parma restaurant will be opening at 415 Main St. on January 1, 2010.

Guest Speak Peter Forman, Commissioner of the PW Office of Emergency Management (OEM)

Forman said the OEM was formed by an intermunicipal agreement, with seven municipalities participating. It covers the area north of Northern Boulevard, so it includes part of Manhasset. Police and Fire districts are participants, although their boundaries do not coincide with village boundaries. Representatives include mayors, trustees and other appointees. The school district is also represented. They have had or will have conversations with the Water District, Water Pollution Control District and the BID. Their goal is to plan for and respond to events that occur across a wide area. If an event happens in Manhattan and people need to be evacuated, it is possible that people will be put on the LIRR and taken to Port Washington. We need to have plans to respond to such emergencies. The OEM also serves as a place where all municipalities in the area routinely get together. All members have signed a mutual aid agreement, so if one municipality wants to help another, they do not have to worry about being sued. The OEM is applying for grants to help the entire peninsula.

Another goal of the OEM is to set up PODs, or Points of Distribution. A POD could be a location that offers prophylactic treatment, such as the swine flu vaccine. If Nassau County gets a supply of the vaccine and distributes it to the OEM, the OEM could set up a POD at the United Methodist Church. A POD could also distribute blankets and needed supplies in other emergencies.

They have set up a new website, northshorealert.org, which allows every member of OEM to communicate with most residents. They could communicate by email, text message or phone. The system can dial 1,000 homes a minute. It costs less to subscribe to OEM than if each member did it individually. Each member can maintain their own data and it allows for multiple phone numbers and emails. Forman said landlines still work when the power goes out.

Debbie Rashti said everyone should have at least one landline.

Forman said they could use volunteers for medical, non-medical and administrative positions.

Dave Allen asked if the Port Water District already has an alert system in place. Forman said they have access to the town’s system, which uses older technology.

Ken Magida asked if the website is secure, since it has so much contact information on everyone. Forman said it is very secure.

Suzanne Ressa asked about local radio broadcasts. Forman said that is an interesting idea and will be looked into.

Joel Ziev asked about the large number of disabled people who cannot access the phone or other technology. Peter said they do not have the resources to reach these people. That is the responsibility of first responders. Ziev strongly suggested that they bring the system online for the disabled. Forman said the fire department has a databook of people who are disabled. Ziev said many elderly do not identify themselves as disabled although they have impaired sight and hearing. Forman said he will alert the members of OEM about this issue.

Ressa said she has worked with National Public Radio and they have discussed a system that vibrates to alert the blind and deaf.

Schein thanked Forman for his informative and interesting discussion.

Monthly Business Card Speaker

The monthly business card drawing winner for November was Debbie Rashti of Servpro.

Rashti said Servpro is the premier residential fire and flood restoration business in the country. They deal with over 600 insurance companies. They did $20 million in business on Long Island last year. They can be on the site within one or two hours after receiving a call. Insurance companies will ask you if you have someone to do the restoration and if not, they usually recommend Servpro. She recommends calling Servpro first so they can get to you faster. When they go into commercial properties, they ask you if you have the blueprints and an electrician you want to use. Servpro has 14 locations on Long Island. If needed for large jobs, they can bring in people from out of town. She concluded by urging everyone to keep their important documents in one place so that they can be grabbed in case of an emergency.