Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 26, 2011

Preparedness and reality: New York City in Irene’s track

Filed under: Preparedness and Response — by Philip J. Palin on August 26, 2011

As of Friday morning, Hurricane Irene is churning about 200 miles off Florida.  Precisely where she might be on Sunday is not entirely clear.  But Mayor Bloomberg has already signaled the possibility of evacuations from low lying areas of New York City.

New York has, perhaps, the single most competent and capable emergency management community in the world.  Tokyo is also very good, but especially since 9/11 the New York approach features a coordination and creativity that is very impressive.

This competence and capability may be about to be seriously tested.  This morning I cannot always access the Office of Emergency Management website, I expect the usage stats are off the chart.  I will stop trying and if you do not live in the greater metropolitan area, I discourage you from trying.

Fortunately, New York City has given considerable attention to the prospect of a serious hurricane plowing up the Hudson or somewhere else nearby.  In 2007 they administrated an international competition focused on creative preparedness, response, and recovery solutions.   The web-based resources are impressive, but are unfortunately not available right now (see prior paragraph).

Here’s the scenario that was set out:

What if New York City… were hit by a Category 3 hurricane?  What if the most densely residential city in the country loses hundred of thousands of homes in a few hours?  What if millions are left with nowhere to live, to work, or to go to school? What if subways flood, streets close, and whole neighborhoods are submerged by up to 23 feet of ocean water and battered by 130 mile-per-hour winds?

We can hope that Sunday will come and go without having real-world answers to these questions.  But if Irene does her worst, it is worth a great deal that those questions have been asked and seriously engaged for a considerable period of time.

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11 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 26, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

Well even NYC will be adopting the NOLA preparedness system in part for IRENE–specifically praying for a swing wide east of NYC. Actually FEMA modeled a Cat3-5 hurricane and all proved conclusively that lower Manhattan and all of STATEN Island probably submerged. Hey but highrise evac is possibly in NYC just not sure now long New Yorkers make it without power.

My big worry on this one is NEW ENGLAND that has had some hurricane activity but nothing like the 1938 hurricane. Ignore all other data including tracks and look at the barometric pressure readings. If a drop below 930 mb or even worse 900mb katy-bar-the-door.

Interesting that FEMA snuck on to its website on August 22nd a draft for public comment of the National Preparedness Goal and IRENE may just cause some revisions.

Comment by John G Comiskey

August 26, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

Phil,

So far it looks as though some lessons have been learned. Both NY and NJ State and local governments have been proactive.

Conversations and more than the usual friendly gestures in a crowded supermarket indicate preparation and concern. The store manager demonstrated the command and control of a drill sergeant. My favorite dual use strategy: buy extra bottled water, freeze the bottled water and when you lose power the frozen water can keep your beer cold. Probably more of a tactic but in this case the higher-order strategy is more of a compliment.

People have been checking in.

1. USCG put me on alert.
2. NYC OEM sent me an alert.
3. NYCTA sent me an alert
4. My college sent me two e-mails with emergency instructions.
5. AAA sent me an alert.
6. My insurance company sent me an alert.
7. My Face Book and Twitter are in overdrive.

I spoke to neighbors and we have a plan.

So we are bunkering down knowing that we are as prepared as we can be.

I am especially looking forward to 5PM mass Saturday night.

Best wishes to the East Coast.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 26, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

Hurricane Irene’s eyewall has collapsed and barometric pressure has increased. 8PM EST!

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Preparedness and reality: Irene tracks … » Security Ops

August 27, 2011 @ 3:40 am

[...] more here: Homeland Security Watch » Preparedness and reality: Irene tracks … function bfi_equal_heights() {}; st_go({blog:'26618212',v:'ext',post:'1207'}); var [...]

Comment by John G Comiskey

August 27, 2011 @ 5:20 am

“It definitely is a concern, but sometimes things are blown out of proportion. Sometimes the people who make the calls just want to save their asses”

“We’re a very litigious society. The city knows that if something happens, they could get sued. That’s okay; it’s just that people have to cover themselves.”

See: Hurricane? New Yorkers soak up the beach
http://news.yahoo.com/hurricane-yorkers-soak-beach-225117758.html

Maybe it’s just people seeking their 15 minutes of fame. I sense an element of society that wants it both ways: an expectation of unfettered freedom replete with cradle to the grave government services.
Preparedness includes Citizen Participation and inconvenience. What if Hurricane Irene devastates the low-lying areas of New York and emergency responders are forced to rescue those who criticize officials who just want to save their !@#$% ?

Be safe East Coast.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 27, 2011 @ 6:52 am

John, Do you perceive that that the Pareto principle may apply? At least eighty percent of the time eighty percent of the people do what’s right. In emergencies and disasters the percentage seems to increase. But there is always a proportion — five, ten, twenty percent? — who either won’t or cannot do the right thing. The most vulnerable often need the help of others. But there are always a few able-bodied, able-minded idiots too stubborn and self-absorbed to care how their heedlessness may impact others. (IDIOT: from Latin idiota ignorant person, from Greek idiotes private person, one who lacks professional knowledge, ignoramus; see idio-)

I know you are prepared. May it turn out you are over-prepared. Will be very interested in your thoughts when Irene has passed.

Comment by Unacceptable Forecasting and Media Hype

August 27, 2011 @ 8:06 am

Hurricane update ref: http://www.bluehill.org

Unacceptable forecasting and Media hype –

Yesterday pm the hurricane began to show weakening which was obvious and NOAA and the media kept up the hype including the weather channel —

With all the informatin at hand, this is a very serious cncern from the prospective of alerting the public when in fact the track over eastern North Carolina would obviously weaken a storm w/only 100 mph winds south of Hatteras — com’on fellas, not only should you be called into the office – but for the federal and state expenditures you have all allotted for a storm which did not have the punch, you have misguided the public and while yes there will be spme flooding and trees downed, certainly nthing of consequence requiring this media hype and the next time, folks will not pay heed to the eventuial storm that may equal Hurricane Diane or Hurricane Carol – never mind the ’38 storm when a junior Meteorologist said to his boss that the storm was headed northward rather than out to sea – and such devastation as well as wind gust at Blue Hill to 186 mph!

Get a Life! For the expenditures which will be released for this storm at a time when the federal and state budgets are suffering so from the ineptness of self-serving politicians, well, Mr. Prez and the “beltway bandits” get back from vacation and get something done of the citizens’ business and to NAA and so many who disregarded this minimal hurricane, do your job and with a wind gust here in Bston at 50 mph, let’s say.. we’ver had the same in thunderstorms rolling by …. unacceptable — when this storm was losing its punhc and obvious on radar w/only 100 mph winds south of Hatteras and a projected path upwards skirting land or over it, sure flooding, but nothing like all this media hype and associated costs when nothing more than a strog nor’easter — watching Deval’s new conference – he should have stayed over at Martha’s Vineyard having not only lunch with Barry, but staying over the weekend as everyone else was scared by the media and fled – shame on you –

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Hrwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645
chris.tingus@gmail.com

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Preparedness and reality: New York … » Security Ops

August 27, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

[...] the article: Homeland Security Watch » Preparedness and reality: New York … function bfi_equal_heights() {}; st_go({blog:'26618212',v:'ext',post:'1219'}); var [...]

Comment by Media Hype --

August 28, 2011 @ 9:49 am

Media Hype – far too much in local, state and federal expenditures when Friday at 4pm Irene south of Hatteras began to see drier air entering the storm and Irene weakening never to become more than a typical Atlantic hurricane for the southeast up to NJ while Deval and pals were at the bunker expecting something which had no reality whatsoever — in fact, the storm over the Bahamas never reached anything like a Cat 4 and forecasters on the weather channel and NOAA should be called on their forecasting – the public relies on professional and unemotional weather floecasting and officials who need not feed into the youngsters who never could imagine the stomr ’38, Hurricane Carol and Diane and the Blizzard of ’78!

Local, state and federal coffers are broke and there was no need for all these expenditures as this storm never had any indication it would truly adversely affect the 65 million we kept hearing about — yes, 4 mln w/o electricity, however even wind gusts never showed any gusto!

Christopher Tingus
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645
chris.tingus@gmail.com

To the youngsters broadcasting, start reading books written about storms from the 1600′s to present which have been far more impressive than Irene who never was poised to be so unncessarily noteworthy…50 tress down in NYC and the bridges never closed – everyne get back to work and get the trains running this pm as we need to get to work tomorrow as present ineptness of officials (Congress) still on vacation and unemployment very telling…let’s hope NYC will not be stopped by Irene, she was not worth the attention and she never warranted such especially here in New England — let’s stop the hype and the rating wars for the media — if you want to report the news, spend so much of your focus on every Congressional member starting with Kerry and then “Mr. Barney” and look at why We on Main Street USA are even less impressed with these “beltway bandits” that a Cat 2 storm south of Hatteras — stoorst cen less not

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 1, 2011 @ 3:25 am

Ask Vermonters and others if Media hyped the event?

Comment by Droid

September 1, 2011 @ 10:20 am

I cant even believe that the government would bring up lack of funds to help out hurricace Irene victims. There should never be a time that any government says there is a limit to the resources that are available for victims who have lost their homes and their lives. I am ashamed to hear the discussion even brought up from FEMA and it does not belong in the media. We should focus more on helping those in need knowing that there will be every effort made to make sure funds are always set aside for disaster relief.

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