John C. Krol is the man with the plan.
When a disaster like Hurricane Sandy strikes, the first responders are rescuers and emergency personnel. But an army of relief and recovery workers follows in their wake.
Mr. Krol, former interim city manager of Watertown and former city manager of Ogdensburg, is headed to Queens today to help staff the Federal Emergency Management Agencys one-stop restoration centers.
I am bringing my experience in local, small government to FEMA, he said. I serve as a liaison between the federal government and the people.
Part of his duties will be to see that $127 million in federal disaster relief funds gets to the communities and families that need it.
We come in after the first responders with grants to help people rebuild, Mr. Krol said. We also help communities with planning, making sure that areas that are rebuilt are resistant to disasters. If this was a tornado, we would help people build storm shelters. Since this is a storm surge and flooding issue, we may recommend that some flood-prone areas arent rebuilt.
Mr. Krol said he started as a community planner with FEMA after retiring as Ogdensburgs city manager in 2005.
One of my first responses was after Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, he said. I also helped with the response to the tornado outbreak in Alabama in 2011.
FEMA has improved its emergency response in recent years, Mr. Krol said.
It is the kind of thing where you get better every time you have to respond, he said.
Mr. Krol said that agencies such as FEMA play a central role in disaster relief and recovery on the state and federal level, but he urged more focus on first responders and disaster preparedness.