Cleveland City Council member surveys residents about emergency preparedness after East Side tornado
After a tornado touched down on Cleveland’s East Side two weeks ago, Cleveland City Councilmember Stephanie Howse is calling for better city emergency preparedness strategies.
Residents in her Ward 7, which includes the Asia Town, Downtown, Hough and St. Clair-Superior neighborhoods, suffered structural damage and power outages after a late August storm toppled trees and caused flooding.
Of particular concern were senior residence buildings that were without power for sustained periods of time and that people without internet or smartphones received inadequate warnings, she said.
She and her team spent the days following the tornado driving around the ward assessing damage and talking to residents about how the city could help, Howse said.
Now she is expanding that outreach, with an online survey of Clevelanders to collect feedback about the city’s response to the storms, residents' issues and suggestions for potential solutions.
"[We're] really trying to hear it from the Cleveland resident perspective to hopefully get some insight. Maybe there were some gaps," she said. "Hopefully, there are some things identified that we can learn from and that we can grow from to put Cleveland in a better situation moving forward."
Howse said she hopes for better internal communication at the city so efforts are streamlined and not duplicated, as well as the creation of a database of where residents live with updated contact information. She also said the city should partner with neighborhood and block leaders, as well as floor captains in apartment buildings, who are prepped for emergency scenarios.
"With climate change, Cleveland is sure to see more of these natural disasters," she said. "We need to make sure we're ready for that."
On Aug. 24, about 11,200 people lost power during the storm, according to figures from the city. City spokesperson Tyler Sinclair told Ideastream that Cleveland Public Power restored about 91% of customers within 60 hours and all customers within a week.
"Like all City operations, we appreciate any and all feedback and look forward to engaging discussions on how we can best serve our residents," Sinclair said in a written statement.
That survey is available online. You can find it here.