Under New York State law, the Mayor has the power to declare a local state of emergency. This might include issuing evacuation instructions for one or more hurricane evacuation zones if it were determined that clear and present danger to the public exists.
Deciding to issue evacuation instructions requires in-depth analysis of storm forecasts and local conditions, which is coordinated by the Mayor, OEM, State and Federal agencies, the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center, and jurisdictions throughout New Jersey, Long Island and upstate New York.
Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone
The Mayor can issue two different kinds of evacuation instructions:
EVACUATION RECOMMENDATION: The Mayor may recommend certain residents take steps to evacuate voluntarily. A recommendation might be issued to cover residents of certain zones, communities or building types. An evacuation recommendation could also be issued for the benefit of people with mobility challenges who need extra time to evacuate.
EVACUATION ORDER: The Mayor may order residents of specified zones or communities to leave their homes for the protection of their health and welfare in the event of an approaching storm.
How to Evacuate
Since flooding and high winds can occur many hours before a hurricane makes landfall, it is critical evacuees leave their homes immediately if instructed to do so by emergency officials. Evacuees are encouraged to seek shelter with friends or family or outside evacuation zones when possible.
To avoid being trapped by flooded roads, washed-out bridges or disruptions to mass transportation, evacuees should plan their mode of transportation with special care.
- Plan to use mass transit as much as possible, as it offers the fastest way to reach your destination. Using mass transit reduces the volume of evacuees on the roadways, reducing the risk of dangerous and time-consuming traffic delays.
- Listen carefully to your local news media, which will broadcast reports about weather and transportation conditions.
- Evacuations from at-risk zones will be phased to encourage residents in coastal areas to leave their homes before inland residents and to help ensure an orderly evacuation process.
- Leave early. Evacuations will need to be completed before winds and flooding become a threat, because wind and heavy rain could force the early closure of key transportation routes, like bridges and tunnels.
The City advises against car travel during an evacuation. The City will be working hard to keep roads clear, but traffic is unavoidable in any evacuation. Driving will increase your risk of becoming stranded on a roadway during an evacuation.
IF YOU MUST TAKE A CAR:
- Be ready for a long, slow trip. Be aware the City will deploy public safety personnel along major transportation routes to help vehicular traffic flow as smoothly as possible. Have a full gas tank before you go.
- Stay tuned to local media for information about road and bridge closures. New York State's 511 can help you monitor traffic on State roads.
- Evacuation Centers are the ONLY places where people may park vehicles. Many evacuation centers do NOT have parking available. Tune in to local media for instructions.
- Large vehicles may be prohibited in windy conditions. This could apply to trailers, trucks, boats and other vehicles with a higher wind profile than a car or SUV.
- In any significant rainstorm, avoid driving through standing water if you cannot tell how deep it is.
If you must go to an evacuation center, it is important to carefully select what you take with you. Do not bring more than you can carry, but be sure to bring your Go Bag with you.
Residents of high-rise apartment buildings may face special risks from hurricanes even if they live safely outside evacuation zone boundaries.
IF YOU LIVE IN A HIGH-RISE BUILDING LOCATED IN AN EVACUATION ZONE, heed all storm warnings and evacuation orders.
IF YOU LIVE IN A HIGH-RISE BUILDING THAT IS OUTSIDE EVACUATION ZONE BOUNDARIES:
On or below the 10th floor:
- Close and lock all windows and securely cover them to reduce damage and injury caused by flying debris.
Above the 10th floor:
Be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
If you have a balcony or rooftop, remove all items that cannot be securely tied down.
Read OSHA's tips for Evacuating High-Rise Buildings (in PDF)