(MINEOLA, N.Y.) - Following the haphazard and woefully inadequate PSEG-LI response to Tropical Storm Isaias that left tens of thousands of Nassau County residents without power for a week or more, Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan (Woodbury) filed legislation on Friday, August 14 to establish new standards for protecting residents of future senior residential communities from extended power outages.
Legislator Lafazan’s proposal requires any new senior housing, defined in this code as intended for residents ages 55 and above, to be equipped with a standby generator that can provide power to individual dwellings for 96 consecutive hours during a power outage. The Nassau County Fire Marshal’s office will establish guidelines for inspecting the generators to ensure functionality and adequate fueling. The law will apply to new construction commencing on or after April 1, 2021.
Harrowing news reports following Tropical Storm Isaias documented the plight of vulnerable Nassau residents, including those at the Woodbury Gardens Senior Apartments, who were without power for nearly a week. Woodbury Gardens’ residents include seniors that rely upon perishable medications, electric-powered medical devices and electric-powered mobility aids.
Legislator Lafazan was joined on the front steps of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building by Judy Palumbo, Executive Director of the Oyster Bay Life Enrichment Center and Woodbury Gardens Board Member Ben Beckom, Treasurer Don Epstein, and Woodbury Gardens resident and community advocate Jonathan Rudes during a press conference to announce the proposal.
“Whether it’s Woodbury Gardens or other senior complexes, when senior communities lose power for extended periods of time, it imperils the health and welfare of these older residents. And, as we have seen - from storm after storm after storm - there doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency from these complex owners to install generators,” Legislator Lafazan said. “And that’s why we need to pass this law - so that if the power goes out, we can bridge this gap between the time power is lost, until the priority response is administered from the utility company. This bill will increase quality of life for thousands of seniors in the years to come. This bill may even save lives. And, this bill has been passed in a bipartisan fashion across the country.”
Legislator Lafazan’s proposal dovetails with a measure, re-filed this morning by Legislator Siela A. Bynoe (D - Westbury), that would direct the owners of existing and future housing designated for occupancy by seniors and people with disabilities to retrofit their facilities with generators to energize elevators and common areas within the development.
Legislator Bynoe first introduced this proposal in 2016 after receiving reports from Hempstead senior housing residents of being stranded in their apartments during power outages. It has not been acted upon by the Legislature since that time.
“We were shown during Tropical Storm Irene, Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Isaias how Long Island is susceptible to lengthy power outages following major weather events. These disruptions in service expose senior citizens and physically disabled individuals to an unacceptably high level of risk - especially those who reside in apartment buildings and rely on elevators,” Legislator Bynoe said. “Nassau County has a duty to ensure its vulnerable residents are never trapped in their apartments or otherwise prevented from meeting basic needs, receiving prompt medical care, or seeking respite from sweltering heat or bitter cold. I firmly believe that the bill I re-filed this morning is as relevant now as it was when I first proposed it in 2016, and I am hopeful that my colleagues will support the important, common-sense initiatives Legislator Lafazan and I have put forth.”