Tom Ioviono with Pinellas County Emergency management was one of 14 people that traveled from our area up to New York City after Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast.
What they saw -- day after day -- is still tough to imagine happening her. But it could, and we must be prepared.
"It was stunning to see an area like New York City affected that badly by a storm," Ioviono recalled. "You think it's the city that never sleeps and invulnerable to anything, and some of the parts of the city were brought to its knees by the power of Hurricane Sandy."
Our local emergency management members spent 10 days in some of the hardest hit areas, working shifts of 12 hours on and 12 hours off, giving the local emergency crews in New York a much needed break.
"It was bad. It was a really bad situation where people who had the warning didn't get out," Ioviono continued.
Throughout the trip, Tom and others took plenty of pictures, videos, and blogged daily. All of it is now on a website serving as a scrapbook of sorts -- or maybe more importantly a reminder of the lessons learned.
"It was a lesson that we learned very easily because it didn't hit us," Ioviono offered.
He says this hurricane season there will be better plans in place to work with surrounding agencies and other organizations. Donation sites need to be set up immediately after a storm hits and a way for supplies to move out. And maybe the biggest lesson for all of us -- prepare early.
"When Sandy hit, a lot of those people didn't prepare and didn't evacuate when they needed to."
It will take years to rebuild some of these areas.
"Hopefully we can learn from the mistakes and the positives that happened in New York City and be able to apply them here," Ioviono added.
LINK: PCEM's Sandy blog: http://pinellasem.tumblr.com/
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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