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Thread: Mayor: City prepared in case of hurricane

  1. #1

    Default Mayor: City prepared in case of hurricane

    NY Newsday
    September 23, 2005

    Mayor: City prepared in case of hurricane

    BY LIAM PLEVEN and BRYAN VIRASAMI
    STAFF WRITERS

    With the wounds inflicted by Hurricane Katrina still fresh and Hurricane Rita heading for Texas, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday that the city's evacuation plan could handle roughly twice as many people as live in New York's low-lying areas.

    The Rockaways, much of lower Manhattan and Coney Island are among a handful of areas in the city that are considered vulnerable to the coastal flooding that could accompany a hurricane. All are densely populated.

    The Rockaways, for instance, are home to more than 100,000 people, and there are only three routes off the peninsula and onto ground farther inland."It's surrounded on three sides by water," said Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.

    And while New York is not hit as often as southeastern states, the region has suffered serious damage in past storms, including the deadly 1938 hurricane that came to be known as the Long Island Express. Carol in 1954, Donna in 1960 and Gloria in 1985 also caused significant harm.

    Bloomberg said the city is prepared to evacuate residents before a hurricane hits.

    "If we did need to evacuate low-lying areas, the Police Department will be knocking on doors, radio stations will be carrying announcements, the Fire Department would be helping, the MTA has agreed to provide buses, the schools are all set, ready to take in people that we have to evacuate, we have stored there already cots and food and water," he said.

    Bloomberg added that the evacuation plan is believed to be able to handle about 700,000 people, which he said is "double the number by any estimate that are living in the low-lying areas."

    Whether the city's evacuation plan or advance notice of an impending hurricane would ensure a smooth exodus is uncertain.

    "There is no such thing as an easy community to evacuate," said Orrin Pilkey, a professor emeritus of geology at Duke University.

    According to a map on the city's Web site, Coney Island and part of the Rockaways are among the areas that "face the highest risk of life-threatening storm surge inundation" in any hurricane. Much of the Rockaways is at risk of inundation from a moderate hurricane, according to the map.

    By looking at http://nyc.gov/html/oem/html/readyne...hurricane.html on the city's Web site, www.nyc.gov, or by calling the city's information line, 311, residents can use their address to find out whether they live in an area that is at risk, where the nearest evacuation shelter is located and how to get to the shelter.

    Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.

  2. #2
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Whew!! Thanks for posting that.

    I live pretty much smack dab in the middle of the island downtown, but even so I entered my address (http://gis.nyc.gov/oem/emols/he/address.jsp) and found that in a major hurricane my block is not in danger of flooding. However, in a major event (unlikely) it does look like I could have a waterfront building (on the block to the south and the block to the west)!!

    Maybe I should get that kayak...

  3. #3
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    It is interesting to note that the far west side, especially between 23rd St. and 42nd St., is apparently in a high risk flood zone during any type of hurricane:

    http://gis.nyc.gov/oem/emols/he/loca...=217&map.y=170



    The zones are color-coded and labeled A, B and C.

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/rea...evaczones.html
    Last edited by lofter1; September 22nd, 2005 at 11:43 PM.

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    I think they need to remake the map so you do not have to put in a specific address.

    Is there any page on there that gives an overview manp of the city?

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    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    I'm in Zone C, but the bar around the corner is in a safe zone, so I'll be fine.

  6. #6
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge
    I think they need to remake the map so you do not have to put in a specific address.

    Is there any page on there that gives an overview map of the city?
    You can put in your address and then do the "zoom out" thing

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    I'm in a safe zone.

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    OK, I work here in the city, so I don't want to try the "make up an address" scenario and get some place in brooklyn instead of midtown...

  9. #9

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    I am screwed.

  10. #10
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    I am in ZONE B.

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Well, my workplace is in zone B, but I am a 10 minute walk from "no zone".

    I wonder if Hoboken is zoned. Hell, a good heavy rain floods parts of the city as is!

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    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Default This is cheerful -

    In case of a hurricane flood is everyone in Manhattan supposed to go to the High School of Graphics Communication on W. 49th. St.??????

  13. #13
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp
    I am screwed.
    I think I'm probably a bit screwed as well since a subway line runs right along the front of my building -- so thats another 20 feet down and no doubt the subway tunnels will create a river of sorts that will find its way into the basement of my building...

    Bye bye electric, bye bye boiler, bye bye water pump.

    I'm getting a drink right now...

  14. #14

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    New York Times
    September 24, 2005

    Evaluating a What-If Case: New York City's Evacuation

    By JAMES BARRON



    Since Hurricane Katrina, New York City officials have assured residents that the city is prepared to handle the kind of evacuation that a major hurricane would require. The city has plans to move people from areas that are likely to flood, plans to open shelters and reception centers, and plans to use public transportation to carry them there.

    Most experts say the city's plans, if imperfect, are better thought out than those in other cities. They also say the city's mass transit network makes the plans for evacuating in advance of flooding or in the aftermath of isolated biological attacks more realistic than would be the case elsewhere.

    These experts say there is no question that city officials have spent considerable time and money envisioning situations and developing strategies for dealing with them. But Katrina and the scenes that unfolded as Hurricane Rita howled toward Texas raised a question: Would it be possible to carry out a complete evacuation of New York City?

    City officials do not pretend that it would be easy, or even doable. They say that very few situations would trigger such a necessity. Those situations are not hurricanes, but things like a nuclear event.

    But even the "area evacuations" they envision for hurricanes-evacuations of zones they have already designated as likely to be flooded-could involve huge traffic jams. Given how many bridges and tunnels the city has, the jams in Houston could seem mild. And they say that moving hospital or nursing home patients completely out of the city would be an epic challenge.

    Thus, after watching the disastrous, and in at least one instance deadly, backups in Houston, they have already tried to adjust their thinking about how to assist drivers who run out of gas. Yesterday, one official said, they worked out a plan to assign police escorts to gasoline trucks.

    Officials are acutely aware that talking about an all-out evacuation is talking about something unprecedented in scope.

    "If New York City had to be evacuated, that would become a national event," said Joseph F. Bruno, the city's emergency management commissioner. "The event would have to be so major, we'd call on federal assets almost immediately."

    Officials like Mr. Bruno and experts who have studied emergency preparedness say New York is unique among cities for the potential usefulness of its transportation system. Its subways, buses and commuter trains carry eight million commuters a day as is, and people could get to neighboring states more easily by New Jersey Transit and PATH trains than by driving.

    But Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky and others have raised questions about the city's evacuation planning. Mr. Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat, takes issue with the city's estimates of how many evacuees it could handle in a hurricane.

    He said that the city was prepared to handle a million evacuees and to provide shelter for 224,000 after a Category 4 hurricane. But he said that a 1993 Army Corps of Engineers study found that a less powerful Category 3 storm would create 2.5 million evacuees and the need to shelter as many as a million.

    Mr. Bruno, who did not comment on Mr. Brodsky's characterization of the city's plans, said yesterday that, based on Houston's experience with Rita, he believes that both estimates are low. "We think more people will go" in an evacuation, he said.

    "We do think that the earlier assumptions, a blasé New York approach, won't be there in light of Katrina and Rita," Mr. Bruno said. "People are going to act a little more frightened or be a little quicker to get out rather than say, 'I'm going to tough this out.' We saw too many images of that from New Orleans. The difference is New Orleans is below sea level and most of New York is not. We saw in Mississippi, which is not, that the land dried out quickly and people could get back. We'll be able to get people back."

    Other experts question whether hurricane evacuations could be as limited in scope as the city envisions.

    "We can't rest on a limited scenario, which is the sort of hurricane plan we have, where you just evacuate parts of the city from one portion of the city to other portions of the city," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

    He also questioned how hospitals would evacuate patients. "To my knowledge, there are no plans that I would be comfortable with for evacuating major medical centers and nursing homes from the city," he said. "No hospital with 500 patients, including people on ventilators, people in intensive care, can get all those people out of the city on its own, without major help from outside."

    Mr. Bruno said that the city's plan called for firefighters to go to hospitals and see what was needed. "We have them all mapped," he said. "If we see the possibility of an evacuation having to occur, the Fire Department will go out and communicate with each of them and say, 'What are your plans, how are you going to do it?"'

    Mr. Brodsky based his study on parts of the city's plan. He said he had repeatedly asked for a complete copy of the plan but that the city had refused to release all of it at once, saying it was always "in flux."

    Officials have said that a Category 3 hurricane could bring a 25-foot storm surge in the financial district, southern Brooklyn and eastern Staten Island and at Kennedy Airport. The city's plan calls for opening 23 "reception centers" and hundreds of shelters, mainly in schools. Evacuees would go to a reception center and be assigned to a shelter.

    But city officials acknowledge that elements of an evacuation would have to be improvised.

    The city's emergency operations center has room for representatives of more than 90 federal, state and city agencies. City officials say they have invited officials from surrounding counties and New Jersey.

    In fact, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly says that the city has two general evacuation plans, one for hurricanes and another to be put into effect in the event of a terrorist attack or other catastrophe.

    The Police Department's role is a component of the overall plans, which have been prepared by Mr. Bruno's agency, the Office of Emergency Management.

    Commissioner Kelly, in an interview yesterday, said that the hurricane plan had different contingencies for different hurricane levels. Under the hurricane plan, he said, the emergency management agency coordinates the response and the Police Department has its "core competencies": assisting in the evacuation, overseeing security in evacuated areas, and attending to traffic control and search and rescue operations.

    The hurricane plan divides the city into three zones. Under the plan for an attack or other catastrophic event, the city would be divided into 151 sectors, each roughly equivalent in population and with some variation based on terrain and other particularities of individual neighborhoods.

    In coordination with other agencies, the city would use trains, boats and city buses to move people out of the city along preset routes.

    Mr. Kelly acknowledged that traffic, which sometimes seems to calcify during a normal commuter rush, would present a significant challenge.

    But he declined to characterize the plan as unthinkable, saying he believed the size of the problem the Police Department could field would prevent the kind of paralysis that seemed to strike Houston.

    Hanging over all this is the issue of how and when to inform the public, for no plan can succeed if residents are unaware of it. The city says it is prepared to spread the word , and that its efforts to do so include having Mr. Bruno appear on a Russian-language radio program (with a translator) to reach listeners in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn..

    But others, Mr. Brodsky included, say that most residents have no idea of where to go or what to do in an evacuation, which is exactly what crippled New Orleans.

    Al Baker, Richard Pérez-Peña and William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting for this article.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Thank you for the map, Lofter. Very odd, when I typed in my address (Chelsea) the program did not mention MSG and told me to go to W. 49th. St.

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