Honorary Professor in Urban Policy at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney Edward Blakely has been appointed to assist in preparing New York State to respond to future natural disasters.

Professor Blakely has been selected to be a member of the New York State Respond Commission, which will examine the state’s emergency response capabilities, including the planning, training, and resource commitments required for the necessary deployment of people and resources during and after a storm.

The NYS Respond Commission is one of three commissions announced by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo last week in the wake of the damage and lives lost due to super storm Sandy. The new bodies have been formed to comprehensively review and make specific recommendations for the overhaul and improvement of the state’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities.

It is an opportunity for New York to lead the world in disaster preparedness, says Professor Blakely.

“Natural disasters are the new normal so what we have to do in New York is to build a city that can adapt to this new circumstance. What New York does will shape how cities all over the world respond.”

Blakely is a respected veteran of multiple disaster recovery efforts. Following the 2005 devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, he served for two years as executive director of the city’s Office of Recovery and Development Administration, becoming known as the Recovery Czar. He was also involved in the responses following September 11 in Manhattan, and the 1989 Oakland-San Francisco earthquakes.

In announcing the commissions, Governor Cuomo said that after three major weather events in two years, it was necessary for the state to adapt to the reality of future storm events. “Regardless of the cause of these storms, New York State must undertake major reforms to adapt to the reality that storms such as Sandy, Irene, and Lee can hit the state at any time.”

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