NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City’s public advocate said while officials did a noble job when it came to addressing public health during superstorm Sandy, there is room for improvement.

Bill de Blasio, speaking at Brooklyn’s New York Methodist Hospital, said the city needs to take a hands-on approach to reach sick residents when a disaster hits.

WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reports

“You can issue all the press releases you want and you can declare the crisis often as many times as you want. But it doesn’t solve the problems on the ground,” de Blasio told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller.

The public advocate said for the next big disaster, the priority should be on reaching elderly residents trapped on the top floors in public housing complexes.

“This could’ve been done better. The resources were there, the personnel was there and we’ve got to learn from it,” de Blasio said.

The public advocate said any additional cost that comes with going door-to-door is a wise investment.

“We have a higher priority. The city has a quarter million employees in its public workforce,” said de Blasio. “Send people trained by the city, door-to-door, to every home affected.”

De Blasio said there was a great need during Sandy to get resources to those in need who may have been trapped in their homes.

“Pharmacies were open a few miles from the affected areas, but the city was not agile enough to link the people in need to the pharmacies that were open,” he added.

De Blasio said mold is the next big challenge and is calling on the city’s Department of Environmental Protection to test toxic substances, especially in flood-ravaged lower Manhattan.

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