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City Council Holds First Hearing On Disaster Planning After Sandy

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Lawmakers are scrutinizing New York City’s evacuation plan, emergency response and disaster preparedness in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

The City Council held its first of several hearings on the storm Monday.

The council is weighing proposals including the feasibility of burying more power lines. Another idea is requiring boilers and other crucial equipment to be set higher off the ground in flood-zone buildings.

Councilman Peter Vallone said officials “have to do better” at providing food and other relief soon after a storm.

Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said the city is still reviewing how it handled the storm. He says one key area is getting more people to comply with evacuation orders.

Holloway highlighted the extent of the city’s response to the Oct. 29 storm. It ranged from giving out about 2 million ready-to-eat meals to arranging electrical and other repairs at 4,800 homes so far.

Other Sandy-related hearings are scheduled this month and next. They’re devoted to utilities, public housing and other matters.

Meanwhile, emergency responders are demanding policy changes claiming management errors put them at increased risk during the storm and prevented them from protecting the city.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and union officials said emergency medical technicians and paramedics were systematically mismanaged and missteps by the chain of command caused chaos.

“Personnel were giving conflicting orders, leaving many of our medics stranded in flooded streets — in some cases, standing on top of inoperable ambulances,” said Crowley, the Chair of the Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee.

Crowley and the unions also point to the new 911 system, saying numerous emergency calls were dropped and that the system failed to live up to its $2 billion price tag.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)