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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Our Post-Sandy Future

With memories still fresh from Superstorm Sandy, Sustainable Long Island’s seventh annual Sustainability Conference will be unlike any of its predecessors.

“I’ve lived on Long Island my entire life and, until Sandy hit, I never felt as though I lived on an Island,” said Amy Engel, Sustainable Long Island’s executive director.Flooding and power outages, coupled with transportation and supply chain disruptions, wreaked havoc in Nassau and Suffolk.

Flooding and power outages, coupled with transportation and supply chain disruptions, wreaked havoc in Nassau and Suffolk.

“The Road to Recovery” is, as such, the appropriate theme for this year’s conference, coming Friday, April 12, at Carlyle on the Green Restaurant, Bethpage State Park, Farmingdale, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.  The gathering’s goals are to “rethink what worked and what failed” in Sandy’s wake; rebuild storm-damaged communities; and renew the region by planning for a sustainable tomorrow.

The day will include two keynote addresses.  Jonathan Bergman, an assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University, and an expert on the disaster relief process, will speak in the morning. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is addressing conferees in the afternoon.

The Mangano administration won high marks for its response to Sandy, with county government providing shelter, food and laundry facilities to displaced residents while also establishing with state and federal governmental agencies assistance centers which operated for weeks after the storm struck.  

In terms of rebuilding, the Farmingdale-based Sustainable Long Island has been working closely with Long Beach to coordinate the recovery and revitalization efforts being undertaken throughout one of the hardest-hit Nassau communities.  The organization’s boardwalk redevelopment focus group, for instance, was instrumental in gathering public input on how to rebuild one of the region’s most picturesque walkways. Indeed, Long Beach’s future will likely be one of the topics at the conference’s Morning Plenary session on the Island’s recovery.

As the day progresses, not-for-profit groups and private consulting firms, may want to sit in on one of the four interactive workshops, to be held simultaneously.  They are billed as: 1) Profitable Partnerships and Funding Resources; 2) Infrastructure Improvement; 3) Health, Healing and Housing; and 4) Food System Challenges and Solutions.

The Funding Resources workshop will be moderated by Andrea Lohneiss, Long Island regional director, Empire State Development Corp., and focus on providing additional financial assistance to Sandy victims. The infrastructure session includes representatives from Nassau County’s Department of Public Works, the LIRR, the Automobile Club of New York and North Shore-LIJ Health System. Jim Morgo, an economic development consultant to the Long Island Association, is moderating the Health, Healing and Housing session, which will assess Sandy’s psychological impact on the region’s residents, and how the public health community should respond in the future.  The Food System panel will strategize on how the Island’s emergency food response may need to change.

A full-day conference ticket is $75 per person.  It’s $50 to attend just the lunch. The details on the workshops and More information is at www.sustainableli.org.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net