2005-08-18 / Community

Learn How To Weather The Storm

Hurricane season is hitting its peak in the northeast and the city’s Office of Emergency Management has launched a new awareness campaign and is taking precautions to prepare New Yorkers for the potential danger they face.

OEM’s ominous new ads show part of New York City under water with a “NYC Hurricane Ahead,” sign. It then asks, “Hurricane season is here. Are you prepared?”

In addition, OEM last week hosted a special meeting at its headquarters for news agencies, which disseminates potentially lifesaving information.

Many believe that hurricanes and tropical storms only seriously affect areas like Florida but OEM wants to fight that misconception. New York is one of the most vulnerable cities “to coastal storms and hurricanes from August to October, when water temperatures along the east cost warm up,” according to OEM Commissioner Joseph F. Bruno.

According to OEM, research has shown that due to New York’s geography, hurricanes can cause more damage than hurricanes of similar strength in the southern United States. In fact, in the case of a category-4 hurricane, which is the second-to-highest category on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, OEM graphs show most of Coney Island would be under 20 feet of water. Rockaway would suffer a similar fate.

Already there have been nine named storms that have surfaced in the Atlantic and the National Weather Service has increased its outlook to included 21 tropical storms; nine to 11 are expected to become hurricanes, according to OEM.

In order to assure that New York City will be safe, the OEM maintains the City’s coastal storm plan that divides areas of the city that are most susceptible into three zones based on how storms of various strengths would affect them. Residents of these zones might have to evacuate. Parts of Rockaway such as Beach 38 and 25 streets along Beach Channel Drive are in Zone A, facing the highest risk of storm surge, while the other parts of the peninsula are in Zone B, facing moderate risks of damage.

In case of an evacuation, there are 23 reception centers – depending on your exact geographic location – for those who cannot stay with family or friends. When evacuating, people should follow the coastal evacuation signs, and for those who take public transportation, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will strive to maintain safety.

OEM has put out a brochure that offers tips on how to prepare for any emergency, instructions on developing a hurricane disaster plan and a map of New York City hurricane evacuation zones. People can obtain the brochure by calling 311 or by going to their website www.nyc.gov/ oem. The brochure is available in several different languages.

Bruno believes that these measures taken by the OEM will “encourage New Yorkers to find out if they live in a hurricane evacuation zone, and make sure they address hurricanes as part of their disaster plans.”

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