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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"Don't take it for granted"

ALBANY, July 7 -- The first storm of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane season -- Arthur, making its way up the eastern seaboard over the past week -- served as a reminder of the importance of embracing emergency preparedness.

Of course, our region has been no stranger to reminders over the past few months – first with the storm that wreaked havoc across Yates County in mid-May, a natural disaster from which so many county residents and businesses continue to try to recover, and more recently, on June 20, with the horrific accident in Ithaca where a tractor-trailer crashed into Simeon’s restaurant and took the life of 27-year-old Amanda Bush.

In each instance, we’ve been reminded that disaster can strike at any instant. And we’ve been reminded of the absolute bravery and selflessness shown by ordinary citizens, passersby, family members, friends and neighbors in the face of disaster. This instant outpouring of assistance and generosity has been remarkable.

As noted in one newspaper editorial arising out of the Ithaca tragedy, “In the seconds that followed a thundering collision, people grabbed cell phones to tap out 911. Others rushed to a yawning gap in a broken building. They climbed over and around a 70-foot-long truck and trailer to rescue those caught inside and under a chaos of broken furniture, bricks and glass. The intersection at Aurora Street pulsed with courage and compassion. Everyday people — who moments before had been enjoying the last day of spring in Ithaca — did the extraordinary.”

Or this comment from one caregiver in the aftermath of the Yates County disaster and the response it’s drawn from near and far: "It’s incredible that people from so far away care what is happening here in Yates County...It is really heartwarming to see this response from so many different areas.”

As always, local emergency first responders were on the scene instantly, and we can never be grateful enough for their continued service to all of our communities. As I’ve done numerous times in the past, I’ll take this opportunity, on behalf of all of the residents of the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions, to again say “thank you” to those who come to the rescue in so many different and crucial ways.

Time after time after time, we have been reassured -- and had our faith and hope restored -- through countless gestures of caring and commitment. There are a thousand stories that go untold, but collectively they stand as a powerful force of recovery.

We simply do not carry on without them.

And finally, with all of these reminders in mind, it’s a good time to issue one more about the next stop in a series of state-sponsored “Citizen Preparedness Corps Training Programs” that have been held throughout the state, including in Horseheads and Ithaca, since February.

The next regional training program is scheduled for Saturday, July 12th in Hornell at the Hornell High School Auditorium (134 Seneca Street) from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The Cuomo administration launched the Citizen Preparedness Corps in February with the goal of training 100,000 New Yorkers “to be first responders in their own homes and in their communities.” The program seeks to provide citizens with tools and resources to help them better prepare for and respond to emergencies and disasters.

Our region has been hard hit in recent years by Hurricane Irene and other severe storms, floods and emergencies, including the most recent devastating events in Yates County and Ithaca. That’s been true across the state and, as a result, this emergency preparedness and response initiative has proven very popular, and meaningful. As part of the two-hour session, participants will receive a NYS Disaster Preparedness Kit containing items that emergency response experts believe are critical to have handy in the immediate aftermath of any disaster or emergency.

These timely, valuable and worthwhile training programs are free of charge, but participants must complete the online registration prior to the event. Online registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

For additional information and to register online for the July 12th training program in Hornell, visit

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara

Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Jim Howell, Michael Lausell, Van Harp

Bottom row: Tom Gifford, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field.


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517

Van Harp

Jim Howell

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Michael Lausell

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482

Stewart Field, Watkins Glen, 535-2335

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Gary Whyman, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano-- Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
Room 723, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-5791


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869