Updated: 04/14/2014 6:23 PM
Created: 04/14/2014 11:38 AM WNYT.com
By: Kumi Tucker
ALBANY -- Local scientists are studying recent unprecedented weather swings and extremes in temperatures.
Monday, people came to the University at Albany from all around the state to hear how to protect local communities from severe weather.
The forum had to move from the Rockefeller Institute to the University at Albany because of high demand. Local leaders were among those eager to get information about severe weather, how to prepare for it, and how to respond to it when every minute counts.
"The question is, is anyone prepared? And certainly we saw this with Katrina and we saw it with Sandy and Irene, it's the type of thing that we're seeing things that belie all understanding," said Robert Bullock, Rockefeller Institute Deputy Director for Operations.
People gathered at U-Albany to hear about severe weather forecasts for upstate New York, emergency response, and policy to be ready for what's coming.
Irene and Lee devastated communities across the Capital Region in 2011.
In 2013, raging floodwaters damaged or destroyed homes and businesses in Montgomery County.
Severe weather has a huge economic impact.
"You take a look at the fact that you had a couple of years right before the beginning of the most important economic season in the Adirondacks, right before the peak of foliage season, you had Route 73 washed out because of flood waters," said Bullock.
The federal government is giving New York State $5,100,000,000 this year for storm recovery, part of a multi-year, multi-state federal package.
"What should motivate us most profoundly is that the cost of prevention here, while real dollars, pales in comparison to the price tag on clean-up," said Congressman Paul Tonko (D - Amsterdam). "And when we do that, it's only a fraction of what is needed by our households, by our businesses, our institutions, our farms."
Tonko says infrastructure has to be rebuilt in a way that is ready for the next emergency.