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November 7, 2012

The lessons of Hurricane Sandy

New York City’s vulnerability to extreme weather has been common knowledge for years – most of the city’s critical infrastructure is less than 10 feet above sea level. That fact, coupled with the science that is now confidently predicting extreme weather events will become much more commonplace in the years ahead, suggest that it’s time for a rethink in our approach to strengthening local resilience.  The village of Leslie in Fife seems to be ahead of the game.


Community activists in Leslie have laid plans this week to deal with any future emergency. The four strong committee is working on the Community Emergency Plan where a whole range of topics have to be addressed.  Leslie’s Emergency Planning Committee is the first in Fife as a part of the Scottish Government’s Resilient Community initiative.

The aim is to try to prepare the community for a range of emergencies that may occur in the future, and to have a contingency plan in place that can help to reduce the impact on the village. Following their inaugural meeting, emergency coordinator, John Wincott told the Gazette: “The aim is to help the residents of Leslie to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies in a way that complements the work of the emergency responders.

“We are in no way attempting to replace any emergency or council response, but to provide local knowledge and support to the professional teams that may be involved.”

The committee will progress information that can be uploaded onto the Community Council website – – and soon there will be a Facebook page and Twitter feed dedicated to the emergency plan that will be of benefit to residents, and will also be available in Leslie library.

Mr Wincott added: “If there is severe weather or an incident, the emergency planning committee can meet to assess the event and decide if, in our view, it constitutes an emergency. 

‘‘If we decide that it does, then we can immediately contact Fife’s emergency planning officer and call upon the resources available to help us.

“I must stress that this does not replace the normal emergency callout process that people should use in the event of an emergency. 

‘‘The committee should be able to gather more accurate information on the likely length of the power cut, deciding whether any additional support needs to be called upon for the village.

“It is very early days in the process, but we hope to have a basic plan in operation before the coming winter.”

Fifer Council’s Lori Hutcheson, said: “This is the first community council to take this major step and their example will be used as a template for other community councils to follow. 

‘‘We have worked closely with the group over several months and they should be congratulated on their commitment which will strengthen the resilience of the community.”