Acts of kindness abounded in the aftermath of the destructive Superstorm Sandy, but that communal spirit didn’t enter every soul, it seems — including some of the ones most responsible for rendering aid. New York’s chief of emergency management has been dismissed by Governor Andrew Cuomo for reportedly sending government employees to clear a tree at his own home in the midst of the devastating storm last week, the New York Times reported.
Steven Kuhr served as the director of the State Office of Emergency Management, which organizes New York’s response to disaster, for a little over a year. He was working in Albany when he allegedly deployed workers from his office to clear a fallen tree from the driveway of his house in Long Island’s Suffolk County, during one of the busiest times the state’s disaster aid crews had ever faced, according to an administration official who spoke to the Times before the dismissal was made public. Gov. Cuomo fired Kuhr, who reportedly made an annual salary of $153,000, after hearing about the incident.
“When we found out about it, we fired him immediately,” an anonymous Cuomo aide told the New York Daily News.
State Senator Martin Golden, whose district still has thousands of residents without power, told the New York Times that Kuhr’s alleged behavior was “definitely an abuse of power.”
“I’ve got people sitting in their homes with two inches of snow outside, they have no electricity, no hot water, they’re sitting in their homes and freezing to death,” Golden said to the Times. “This guy’s only worried about his own home? It’s sad. The governor made the right call.”
According to the Times, power had not been restored for about 240,000 New York residents as of Wednesday. Gov. Cuomo has harshly criticized public utilities for the delay.
“Power continues to be a struggle,” Mr. Cuomo said Tuesday. “Until every family has their power back, we’re going to continue to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to make that happen.”
Kuhr had previously run an emergency management consulting firm, served as a chief and division captain of E.M.S. special operations at New York City’s Fire Department, and worked as the deputy director for operations and planning a the Office of Emergency Management, the New York Times noted. He has been replaced by Howard Glaser, Gov. Cuomo’s operations director.