Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 27, 2011

East coast evacuates: 370,000 on the move in New York City

Filed under: Catastrophes,Preparedness and Response — by Philip J. Palin on August 27, 2011


Early this morning Irene came ashore near Cape Lookout, North Carolina.  She is still tracking to parallel the Atlantic coast all the way into the Canadian Maritimes.   Roughly two million evacuees are on the move to make room for Irene… especially her storm surge.

At this point Irene is forecast to pass over the New York metropolitan area on Sunday as a Category 1 hurricane.  Right now the eye seems likely to move over Long Island which could reduce wind-impact on the more densely populated urban core.

The New York City Office of Emergency Management is reporting:

Due to the approach of Hurricane Irene, the City has issued a mandatory evacuation order for New Yorkers who live in the low-lying Zone “A” coastal areas across all five boroughs and the Rockaways. These areas include: Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, Far Rockaway, Beach Channel, South Beach, Midland Beach, and Battery Park City. People should be out of these areas by 5 pm on Saturday.

Residents who live in Zone A are strongly encouraged to stay with friends or family outside an evacuation zone. Evacuation Centers are open for residents who have no alternative shelter.

MTA service including subways, buses, and railroads will begin to shut down at noon tomorrow, so please prepare to evacuate immediately.

The New York Times has a very helpful interactive map of the NYC evacuation zones.

As noted in previous posts, NYC has a great emergency management community.  While there are intense rivalries between certain agencies.  There is also effective — and regularly exercised — incident command.  There is a professionalism, competence, and commitment to mission that very few jurisdictions can equal.

My only critique of NYC emergency services has been a tendency to depend too much on command-and-control structures and systems.  Its very depth of expertise could, in a truly catastrophic context, undermine its effectiveness.  Experts can sometimes get in the way of creative response to the unexpected.

While I think Sunday and the aftermath could be tough, right now — cross my fingers, knock on wood, et cetera — I do not anticipate a catastrophic impact on New York.  If so, the expertise and command-and-control bias will provide significant benefit.  I will be interested in what our New York City readers have to say on Sunday and Monday… assuming they can let us know.

For a different angle on the catastrophe or non-catastrophe issue, please read an excellent post by Nate Silver at the New York Times blog packed with meaningful data.  He calls it: A New York Hurricane could be a Multibillion Dollar Catastrophe.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

August 27, 2011 @ 7:33 am

This is a first for NYC but predict won’t be the last!

Comment by Unacceptable Forecasting and Media Hype

August 28, 2011 @ 9:19 am

The barrier islands will flood and the seashore neighborhoods will see some flooding and trees down, surely NC and VA will have seen most of the action and maybe even as dar noth as NJ, however at least for New England, far too much hype – far too much state and federal expense for a storm which has been nothing more than a half good nor’easter….

Let’s not exaggerate for after the storm, a comparison of the Blizzard of ’78 for instance or even Huricane Bob back in ’91 should be made by the media whose hype has once again prompted many to question officials —

4,000,000 east coast residents w/o electricity and unfortunately 11 deaths reported, yet these reporters on television for the most part under 35, well heck, what have they seen other than Irene — New York has had some 50 trees down, battery park floded and within an hour or two water receeded so let’s not overplay the limbs down for eventually a real hurricane may strike!

I think many should read up on US weather and storms going back to the 1600’s and 1700’s and so on and you will find serious storms – no bridges closed in NYC, no bridges closed to and from the Cape Cod area where I am located and all in all, far too much in expenditures in resources deployed for Irene weakened south of Hatteras yesterday at 4p and never ramped up and it would not, yet officials especially here in New England flexed their egos and weather folks failed to accurately forecast – sorry guys, overreaction from many here on Main Street USA!

We had higher wind gusts in thunderstorms rolling through a few weks ago…

Get your winter gear on and do the same reporting this winter as nor’easters hit the coastal areas –

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645

Hurricane season is at its peak around the 11th-12th of Sepetember – Let’s hope that if we are to encounter another storm, we can expect an accurate forecast and lessen the hype unless needed — our local communities and state governments are broke and the federal government the same so stop wsting monies on resources until truly necessary —

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 1, 2011 @ 3:23 am

First use of mandatory evacuation as Protective Action Recommendation ever by NYC officialdom.

Largely ignored?

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