2006-04-07 / Community

City's Evac Plan Puts You In Danger: Study

By Brian Magoolaghan

Members of an state assembly committee, including Audrey Pheffer, last week released a report that criticizes the city's hurricane evacuation plans but the Big Apple's disaster prep planners say they're late to dinner.

The report - based on a six-month study, including hearings and document reviews - was released last Thursday by Pheffer and assembly members Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) and Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn).

It cites AccuWeather's findings that "the Northeast is long overdue for a powerful hurricane" and concludes that "the City's evacuation plan would be unable to protect the life, safety and property of the City's residents."

The report says the plan:

+ Relies on a cumbersome two-tiered shelter system that forces residents to go to a reception center before going to a shelter.

+ Doesn't identify enough shelter space and reception areas.

+ Is completely unable to evacuate nursing homes and hospitals.

+ Does not address the length of time it will take to evacuate.

+ Fails to address traffic congestion and the call to "phase" the evacuation will not work.

+ Does not clearly establish evacuation responsibilities among agencies and authorities.

Residents would have no idea what to do in an evacuation and most have not seen or heard anything about the Office of Emergency Management's "Ready New York" preparedness guide, the report says. To get a copy of the guide, you can call 311 or go to www.NYC.gov/OEM

"New York City has obviously failed to provide my coastal community with a comprehensive plan that adequately addresses our unique needs," Pheffer charged.

OEM responded this week, saying the state assembly report is moot.

"That's a report that critiques last year's hurricane plan, which we're in the process of ripping apart and putting back together," spokesperson Jarrod Bernstein told The Wave. "It's like issuing a report that says last year's milk is sour."

Bernstein highlighted the fact that OEM representatives met with members of Community Board 14 in Rockaway Tuesday night to find out what's on people's minds. "Our goal was to get to the core of the concerns of the community there," he said.

Bernstein said details of OEM's revised plans would be made public later in the spring.

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