City urging hurricane preparedness
As summer arrives, so does hurricane season. After last year's flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, the city Office of Emergency Management started Hurricane Preparedness Week by reminding New Yorkers to determine if they live in evacuation zones and to make sure they have rough-weather supplies.
"It is important to remember that even one storm can make a difference," said OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno, standing Tuesday on a tree-lined Brooklyn street near the water. Behind him, a photo from August 2011 showed the same street -- Van Brunt in Red Hook -- covered by water. "Irene was the only hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. during the 2011 hurricane season."
Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 2012 hurricane season outlook, predicting 9 to 15 named storms, 4 to 8 hurricanes and 1 to 3 major hurricanes, a slight decrease in storm activity from previous years.
Hurricane season officially begins Friday and lasts through October, though most storms are expected in August and September, Bruno said.
As many as 600,000 people may need temporary shelter during a storm. If a major hurricane hits the city, as many as 2.3 million people may have to evacuate coastal areas. Hurricane Irene, which was downgraded to a tropical storm before it hit the city, affected 370,000 residents and 43 health care facilities. The city sheltered 10,000 people at 82 sites last year.
OEM has issued a map, available in brochures and online, showing neighborhoods at risk for storm damage that may require evacuation, often at public schools. Areas most likely to need evacuation include Coney Island, Jamaica Bay, Greenpoint, parts of lower Manhattan and the edges of Staten Island.The city has help as it prepares for this hurricane season. Grocery chain, Fairway Market, has partnered with OEM and donated food to hurricane shelters. Hundreds of city residents also volunteer to work in Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), which are trained to do evacuation outreach, help in shelters and conduct light search and rescue.
"We always have a need for more people," said CERT volunteer Glenn Wolin, 63, of Brooklyn.
Bruno reminded New Yorkers that they should always have on hand their emergency kits, which should have three days of nonperishable food and drinking water, flashlights, battery-powered radios and an extra supply of batteries.