Scholar sent to aid Hurricane Sandy recovery

By Paul Hemsley

The University of Sydney (USyd) has sent Honorary Professor in Urban Policy, Edward Blakely, to New York to help its recovery efforts caused by October’s monster storm Hurricane Sandy.

Professor Blakely, an American academic working at USyd’s United States Studies Centre, is a seasoned veteran in dealing with disaster recovery efforts after he earned the unofficial title of ‘Recovery Czar’ within the New Orleans Office of Recovery and Development Administration for his efforts to ameliorate the destruction inflicted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

His experience also extends to the responses following the terrorist attacks in Manhattan on 11th September, 2001 and the 1989 Oakland-San Francisco earthquakes.

Professor Blakely's expertise is expected to assist the state managing the aftermath of large scale catastrophes.

As part of the recently formed New York State Respond Commission, he has been selected to examine New York’s emergency response capabilities including planning, training and resource commitments that are required to apply the necessary people and resources as a consequence of a storm.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the formation of the Commission last week. It is one of three bodies created to better prepare the state for emergency situations following the hurricane.

Professor Blakely said the formation of the Commission is an opportunity for New York to lead the world in disaster preparedness.

“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,” Mr Blakely said.

He said what New York does will shape how cities all over the world respond.

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