Monday, May 10, 2010

Public Safety Director's Snow Response Questioned

Pittsburgh City Council members questioned Public Safety Director Michael Huss about his department’s response to February snowstorms at a Snow Taskforce meeting today.

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said Huss disregarded seven previous invitations to speak with the taskforce, so he was subpoenaed to appear today.

“I shook your hand and I looked you in the eye, and I asked you if you’d be willing to sit down and have a conversation about our emergency management planning, and I could not get a response,” Rudiak told Huss.

Rudiak said if Council can’t communicate with the Public Safety Department after the emergency, it will be even more difficult to correspond during a disaster.

The Councilwoman asked Huss about the city’s preparedness, pointing out that Pittsburgh had to buy chains to outfit emergency vehicles. Huss said that was because the type of chains the city had weren’t working in such deep snow.

Rudiak also asked Huss why several emergency stations were without power, and many didn’t have their parking lots plowed.

Huss responded that it is beyond his department’s means to outfit all stations with backup electricity. He added that clearing the streets was a higher priority than finding parking for his workers.

Despite the confrontational tone of the meeting, Rudiak and Huss agreed the city should be more prepared for large storms in the future.

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