Homeland security, tornado damage top BK hearing

BAY RIDGE - Homeland security and disaster response were on the agenda Tuesday at a state Senate hearing in Brooklyn.

The Homeland Security, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee hosted the hearing at Fort Hamilton Army Base. State senators, including Martin Golden and Ruben Diaz, heard testimony from officials working at several agencies and nonprofit groups.

A tornado packing 135 mph winds that hit Bay Ridge and Sunset Park August 8 topped the hearings. Golden, who represents Brooklyn, praised Mayor Michael Bloomberg's response. The mayor visited displaced families and toured damaged sites shortly after the storm.

Manmade disasters, such as Sept. 11, were also discussed. Officials testified communications problems that hampered responders' ability to talk to each other as the World Trade Center towers collapsed have been fixed.

"We have within the city an 800-megahertz system," said Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Bruno. "We can reach all key government agencies so command can talk to command."

Officials also spoke about the foiled JFK fuel pipeline plot. Police said they were closely following the plan and residents were never in danger. Four suspects are facing charges in the case.

The hearing is just the beginning of an assessment. Other lawmakers said they want to have more security hearings in central Brooklyn and other areas.

In the meantime, officials said the best way to keep Brooklyn and the city safe is for New Yorkers who see something to say something.

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