FEMA,OEM To Rockaway Residents: IfAsked,Evacuate
While it may be warm and sunny at the time an order is issued to evacuate the Rockaway Peninsula from an oncoming hurricane, residents were warned last week that being fooled by weather conditions, which exist when such an order is given, could be disastrous. Within hours, calm weather can turn dangerous.
That is what representatives of FEMA, the city's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Red Cross told an overflowing crowd at St. John's Baptist Church on Beach 74 Street on May 4 during an Emergency Preparedness event hosted by State Senator Malcolm Smith.
"When the city says evacuate, it may be a beautiful summer morning, but we have to get everyone off the peninsula before the weather turns deadly," said Ken Curtin, FEMA's voluntary agency liaison, who acknowledges that most times a warned area will be spared, but it is that one time that FEMA and the other agencies are worried about.
"Try to make arrangements to get to higher ground off the peninsula," continued Curtin. "Please believe that there is nothing more important than to get off the peninsula to save your life."
"New York City is particularly at risk," said Maryann Marrocolo, an assistant commissioner for planning and preparedness at the OEM, who has visited the Rockaways several times since January getting input for OEM's evacuation plan. "If you are asked to leave, and you live on the peninsula [you have to go].
The Red Cross' Sidney Ko advised Rockawayites to keep a 'to go bag' - with such items as identification, medical information on all family members, medicines and personal documents by the front door in case evacuation is necessary.
Ko also said an emergency supply kit - with enough supplies to last at least three days - should be in a central location in the home in case residents are told to stay in their homes during an emergency. Some things an emergency kit should contain are one gallon of water per household member for each day, nonperishable food items, and a transistor radio and flashlight with extra batteries.
Representatives of Councilman James Sanders, Jr. and the mayor's office joined Smith, FEMA's Curtin, the Red Cross' Ko, OEM's Marrocolo and Kelly McKinney (Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Preparedness) at the event. Among the evenings' other sponsors were Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation, Community Board 14, the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce and several civic associations along with local politicians Congressman Gregory Meeks, Assemblywomen Audrey Pheffer and Michele Titus and Councilman Joseph Addabbo, Jr.
OEM will be presenting the agency's new evacuation plan for the Rockaways at the June 13 meeting of Community Board 14 at 7:45 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Beach 90 Street.
To find out more information on how to plan for an emergency and what to do if there is one, call 311 for copies of the Ready New York Household Preparedness Guide. You can also go to the OEM's website at http://www.nyc.gov/ html/oem/ html/ readynewyork/home.html to download the guide and other emergency preparedness material.