New York City is better prepared than ever for natural disaster, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday morning as Hurricane Joaquin raised a potential threat to the metropolitan area.
De Blasio's disaster managers are on "full alert and in full activation" in case Joaquin, which was pounding the eastern Bahamas Thursday, bears down on the New York region early next week.
"We are prepared for it to come right our way," de Blasio told radio John Gambling on AM 970 The Answer.
De Blasio said the city would do better than it did during superstorm Sandy in 2012 to communicate with the public and manage evacuations if they become necessary.
"The difference is, before Sandy, unfortunately, I think, a lot of us didn't think something like that could happen here," de Blasio said. "Now, we're in a state of readiness days before."
The superstorm left 44 dead in the city, 51 square miles flooded and about $20 billion in damage to building stock and infrastructure, according to city officials.
De Blasio's planned travel to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, for a national mayors' conference Friday and Saturday is "currently on hold" due to the storm, the mayor's office announced hours after the interview.
"On the hurricane, we're obviously going to make every decision based on what's going on with Joaquin. We're watching it hourly," de Blasio had told Gambling Thursday morning. "If that situation worsens, I'll adjust my plans accordingly. I would in any situation, obviously."
De Blasio was making his second appearance on the Gambling show, which de Blasio's predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, did weekly.
Gambling took two calls from listeners, including one from a Staten Islander named Tom, who complained about what he described as a proliferation of marijuana smoke in public "since this lack of stop and frisk" -- the police tactic de Blasio has ordered minimized.
"How do you fix the quality of life for me, the guy who's always followed the rules, against the guy who's not following the rules and is bombarding me with this marijuana smoke every house, everywhere I go throughout the city?"
De Blasio said he believes "100 percent" in "intensely" enforcing quality-of-life laws, but the NYPD has shifted to issuing summonses instead of making arrests. He noted that overall crime is down 4 percent this year compared to last year.