The White Plains Examiner

Astorino on Irene’s Impact: We Were Lucky

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Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino addresses the media Sunday evening.

Hurricane Irene knocked out power for approximately 75,000 Westchester residents, forced the closure of major parkways on both sides of the county, knocked down trees, turned highways, parks and parking lots into reservoirs and forced most of the county’s municipalities to declare a State of Emergency. Still, County Executive Rob Astorino said, the worst-case scenarios were averted as a storm that didn’t quite live up to its billing as a natural disaster for the ages caused no fatalities or serious injuries and didn’t paralyze the county’s infrastructure.

“I think it was a very big rainstorm with some heavy winds, but I think we were very lucky overall,” Astorino said early Sunday evening, addressing a handful of reporters. “We’re working through this, and we’ll get through this together.”

Astorino, originally set to speak at 5 but delayed shortly as President Obama addressed the nation, said he has toured the county to assess the damage and even got an aerial view from a state helicopter. Parts of Yonkers, Elmsford and the Sound Shore were hit the hardest, he said, while some areas were hardly affected.

The Bronx River Parkway is closed due to major flooding.

Highway closures in the county include the Bronx River and Hutchinson Parkways, as well as parts of the Saw Mill, which are still completely underwater. The county executive said it was hard to predict when they would be back open.

“Instead of keeping them open until these things happened, we closed them last night and that effectively kept a lot of people, almost everybody, off the roads and as such we had no accidents to report,” he said. “He had no rescues. We had no injuries.”

The Saw Mill Parkway was also flooded Sunday.

As far as power goes, Astorino said he has spoken with officials from Con Edison and NYSEG, which had 48,000 and 28,000 homes without power, respectively, or about 75,000 total for the county. It’s unclear when power will be restored.

Astorino called it too early to decide whether to apply for federal aid from FEMA but said he assumed the county would do so. He also defended his decision against declaring a countywide State of Emergency, saying it would be “theatrics” and was not necessary.

Westchester residents should call 2-1-1 in non-emergency situations and 9-1-1 only if there is a serious emergency. He said the county would be open Monday, and said it was up to individuals whether to return to work.

The North White Plains Train Station was underwater Sunday.

Getting to work tomorrow may be difficult for Westchester and Hudson Valley residents relying on public transit. After the MTA shut down all services Saturday afternoon, MTA Spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said there’s “a distinct possibility” there will be no Metro-North service on Monday. Stretches of the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven lines are underwater, including the North White Plains and Ossining train stations.

“You cannot operate with the third rail under water,” Anders said.

During Irene, technically a tropical storm by the time it made landfall in New York, more than 400 people sought shelter at one of the county’s 17 emergency locations, according to Astorino.

For more information and updates including road closures, power outages and evacuations visit the Westchester County website,


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