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Hearing Examines City's Response To Sandy

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Some top city officials faced tough questioning from the City Council on the adminstration's planning and response to Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Bobby Cuza has the story.

Never has the city received as many 911 calls as it did during Hurricane Sandy. City officials said Thursday as many as 20,000 calls came in each hour. That created wait times of five and a half minutes for emergency callers.

Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway defended the city against questions from various council members.

"Can you tell me why the system failed during this major storm," Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens) asked.

"The system didn’t fail during this major storm," Holloway responded. "I disagree with almost every underlying major premise of your question.”

That's how it went at Thursday’s City Council oversight hearing, where Council members offered praise, usually followed by criticism.

Holloway had to answer Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.'s (D-Queens) question as to why it took so long to get relief to those who needed it.

"It’s just not the case that there were not government resources on the ground until Thursday," Holloway said.

Many questioned Holloway on other aspects of perceived response failures.

Brooklyn Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Brooklyn) asked why some of his borough's hardest hit areas were ignored during the initial response to the storm.

Holloway's answer was again contentious.

“To characterize anything as 'left out' I think is a mischaracterization,” he said.

Holloway laid out some grim statistics as well.

According to Holloway, Hurricane Sandy left 270 homes destroyed. Sandy also damaged another 230 homes to the point where they will have to be demolished. The storm caused 1.3 million tons of debris, 20,000 downed or damaged trees and limbs and 43 New Yorkers were killed, 35 of whom drowned.

One issue the city reviewed is how to convince more people that an evacuation is necessary.

Holloway is heading up that review and will present recommendations to the mayor by the end of next month.

Wednesday's hearing was just the first in a series of about a dozen planned Sandy oversight hearings. The second one, scheduled for Thursday, will focus on the city Housing Authority.

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