Hurricane Irene New York: Potential NYC Evacuations and Hurricane Preparedness

Category: / Aug 25, 2011 2:45PM EDT
Although Hurricane Irene's path is still somewhat uncertain, there is increasing likelihood that Irene will make landfall in New York City as a Category 1 storm this weekend, with winds of at least 60 mph. New York City has not had a direct hit from a hurricane since 1821, when a 13-foot storm surge flooded all of Lower Manhattan, including modern-day Tribeca, and caused severe damage to Coney Island. The Great Hurricane of 1938 (also known as the Long Island Express) also caused significant damage although it did not make immediate landfall in Manhattan. Because hurricanes do not often hit areas of urban congestion, most hurricane preparedness guidelines are biased towards those living in single-family homes in residential waterfront communities. NYC residents can look up any address on the Building Department's website - via - to learn when their building was built, when it was last modified, and any outstanding violations that might be of concern in the face of catastrophic weather. It is essential to remove any items on terraces, fire escapes and patios -- like grills and outdoor furniture -- that could potentially get caught up in a gust of wind. Widespread flooding is expected throughout the city, and the subway systems may be shut down in advance of the heaviest rains, so be prepared to stay put. Depending on where you live in New York City, you may be required to evacuate. has provided a color coded city map, pictured here, for residents to determine the likelihood they will be forced to evacuate. As of midday today, officials were still considering whether to force evacuations in low-lying areas like lower Manhattan or South Brooklyn. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference this morning that evacuations will depend on the strength, path, and speed of the storm, and people should be equipped with go-bags containing nonperishable food, bottled water, medications, and spare sets of keys. Bloomberg urges NYC residents to keep updated on the hurricane’s progress by following the National Hurricane Center and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.