FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2012
MAYOR BLOOMBERG UPDATES NEW YORKERS ON CITY PREPARATIONS FOR HURRICANE SANDY AND STEPS NEW YORKERS SHOULD TAKE TO PREPARE
The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's remarks as delivered this evening at the Office of Emergency Management in Downtown Brooklyn.
"Let me first thank Pamela Mitchell
for signing today. We try to do this
when we have an emergency situation and
want to make sure that everybody gets
all of the information.
"We did want to bring everyone up to
date on the City's preparation and planning
for Hurricane Sandy. We are here in the
Briefing Room of the City's Office of
Emergency Management in Brooklyn. And
joining us are a number of the City Commissioners,
as well as Kevin Burke, the CEO of Con
"Kevin can bring us up to date on his
facilities' planning for the storm in
a few minutes. I have talked to Governor
Cuomo today to ensure that City and State
agencies are coordinating our preparation
efforts, and the staffs have had numerous
conversations all day.
"President Obama asked Craig Fugate
from FEMA to call me earlier in the day
and offer any help. I assured him that
we had, we think, everything under control
but we appreciate the effort. What FEMA
really can do is to help those parts
of the country that don't have all of
the extensive facilities and agencies
and practice that New York City does.
But I did want to thank them for their
"Many of you know, State officials gave
an update on the status of their planning
earlier this afternoon, including contingency
plans for closing public transit should
the need arise. That's a decision they
will make tomorrow probably in the middle
of the day, and then my thought was that
unless something would change dramatically
we would try to give you one more briefing
late Sunday afternoon tomorrow probably
around six pm, but we'll announce it.
We'll see, depends on what the storm
"What our expectation is for during
the day tomorrow that there would be
– it would be windy, maybe a little bit
of rain, but not much during the day.
Then the storm would start getting worse
on Sunday evening, tomorrow into Monday.
And we want to make sure, then I'll go
over what we're going to do with parks
and the beaches and that sort of thing.
But don't get lulled tomorrow when there's
not a lot of rain and not a lot of wind.
This is a dangerous storm, and I think
we're going to be okay, but if it were
to strengthen unexpectedly or change
its expected path it could do a lot of
damage, and you could be at risk.
"So if things are the way it's planned
and if everybody does what they're supposed
to do, we will get through this very
nicely and look back on it and say maybe
we can offer some help to other parts
of the area upstate or below us, south
of us, which might get hit a lot harder.
"The trajectory says that the storm
will hit a little bit south of us, the
Maryland/Delaware area. Nobody's exactly
sure where landfall is going to be, but
we are working to ensure that no matter
how or when the storm arrives the City
will be well prepared and our residents
"Lower Manhattan is the most vulnerable
place to a storm surge, and Kevin Burke
will talk about the elements of the Con
Ed system down there that may be vulnerable
to flooding, electricity and steam. Steam
is used by a lot of big buildings to
run their facilities, and if the steam
pipes were to get inundated at the outside,
the difference in the temperature makes
them really dangerous to continue to
keep going so they might have to shut
down of them down.
"Let me tell you first we are not ordering
any evacuations as of this time for any
parts of the city. We're making that
decision based on the nature of the storm.
"Although we're expecting a large surge
of water, it is not expected to be a
tropical storm or hurricane-type surge.
With this storm, we'll likely see a slow
pileup of water rather than a sudden
surge, which is what you would expect
with a hurricane, and which we saw with
Irene 14 months ago.
"So it will be less dangerous – but
make no mistake about it, there will
be a lot of water and low-lying areas
will experience flooding. The City's
Departments of Transportation and Environmental
Protection will be deployed throughout
the city to address flooding conditions.
"And as I said yesterday, there are
6 hospitals and 41 chronic care facilities
in the area that we designate as Zone
A – the low-lying coastal areas that
are most at most at risk for flooding.
"Health Commissioner Tom Farley has
been in touch with all of those facilities.
All of those facilities have cancelled
elective admissions and discharged all
patients who do not need to stay there.
"Chronic care facilities will not evacuate
patients in general, but as State Officials
indicated earlier today, ventilator-dependent
patients in these facilities will be
transferred to a safe location by 5 pm
"The concern there is that a prolonged
loss of power could threaten the safety
of those patients, and that's why they
are being transferred. All of these health
care facilities are taking additional
precautions to prepare – including bringing
in more staff. A lot of them do have
backup generators and any outages are
not expected to be more than hours or
at most a day or so, so they'll be fine,
they think. Every one of them has said
that they're comfortable in going for
a reasonable period of time dealing with
a power outage if that should occur.
"So let me reiterate – as of now we
are not ordering any evacuations. However,
these storm conditions can be dangerous.
The safest thing you can do is to stay
"If you live in a low-lying area and
have particular concerns about severe
flooding or prolonged power loss, you
should consider staying with friends
or family members who live somewhere
less vulnerable to those problems.
"If you live in a low-lying area and
that is not an option for you, we also
have 65 shelters in public schools around
the city that are fully staffed and supplied.
Let me repeat that, 65 shelters, they're
in schools. They have the personnel and
the supplies. And if you don't want to
stay in your home and don't have another
safe option, they are available for use.
They provide a safe place to sleep, they
provide meals, and they have space for
pets so bring your pets with you.
"They will be open as of 9 am tomorrow
morning, Sunday. And to locate one of
those shelters, all you have to do is
go to nyc.gov or call 311. All of these
shelters, incidentally, do have at least
one entrance usable for wheelchairs.
"If you require further information,
311 or visit the OEM website, or the
website of the Mayor's Office for People
with Disabilities, which can also provide
information about accessible transportation.
"If you can't get to a shelter by yourself,
you can request transportation by calling
311. But I would stress that your first
option should be to stay with family
and friends. What happened in Irene is
a number of people moved upstate, and
as you remember that was where the real
damage was done.
"So my advice would be try to find places
to stay that are in the city, just out
of the flood zone. The City's facilities
are more robust and a lot less susceptible
to power outages and flooding and tree
limbs coming down, and the kind of damage
that we did see with Irene upstate.
"We have not made a decision yet as
to whether schools will be open on Monday.
We will make that decision and announce
it tomorrow, probably late in the day.
"As of now, all City offices will be
open and all City employees are expected
to be at work on Monday. Monday will
be a regular work day. East River Ferry
landings, however, will be closed beginning
"So there will be no East River ferry
service on Sunday and until further notice.
Passengers on the Staten Island Ferry,
however, should anticipate delays or
disruptions when the storm hits. Unless
the storm gets to over something like
45 knots we would keep the ferries going,
but they will be going slower than they
normally would. If they have to get closed
down to maintain safety, we of course
would do that.
"Police will be on extended hours beginning
Sunday and Highway Patrol units will
be prepositioned to aid any stranded
"FDNY special rescue units are also
prepared to respond to any emergencies,
and Commissioner Cassano has put extra
fire engines on Staten Island just in
case the ferries aren't going and the
bridge had to be closed.
"Sanitation pickups are scheduled to
proceed as normal on Monday morning so
as you put out your trash try to make
sure it doesn't get blown around. There
are going to be windy conditions. Put
some weights on them so that they don't
get blown around.
"Because of the hazards posed by high
winds, all events in our City's parks
after 2 pm tomorrow will be cancelled
and all parks will be closed tomorrow
evening at 5 pm. All events stopped by
2 pm tomorrow, all parks closed by 5
"Let me say something again and again
and again: please, the beaches are dangerous
and surfing is extremely dangerous. No
surfing please tomorrow. You may want
to run the risk, but if we have to send
our emergency workers into the ocean
to save you, their lives are at risk.
And you just don't have a right to do
that to somebody else. So please, tomorrow,
I know the surfing looks attractive and
there's more surfing done around here
than ever before, but this is just much
too dangerous a storm, and for a small
amount of pleasure your live might be
at danger, but certainly the emergency
workers' lives will be in danger.
"As of now, no shutdowns in public transit
service have been ordered as the MTA
talked about earlier in the day. If conditions
warrant, the MTA contingency plans call
for closing down transit service beginning
7 pm tomorrow. Service would be gradually
curtailed and totally shut down by 3
am on Monday morning. That's what the
MTA's current plans are.
"That may or may not happen – but all
New Yorkers are urged to take this possibility
into consideration and plan accordingly.
If you need to take public transportation,
try to get to your destination before
7 pm tomorrow. The MTA has a plan to
shut down because they cannot run the
risk that the trains or the buses will
be damaged. And I think they are taking
the appropriate kind of planning that
one should have, and they'll have to
make a decision tomorrow which we will
support and work with them.
"New Yorkers can also take other precautions
to make sure they and their families
are prepared. For instance, you can visit
the City's website at nyc.gov, or call
311 for regular forecast updates and
other info on the storm. Both the website
and 311 are operating smoothly.
"We think that we will be able to handle
the capacity, but as I said yesterday
the record that we had in Hurricane Irene
was 4-odd million calls and uses of the
311 service. Do not use 911 unless it's
a real emergency. If you're using it
and it's not an emergency, you're keeping
somebody else who might try to get through.
"You can sign up for Notify NYC emails
or text alerts on the City's site or
by calling 311. You can also follow NYCMayorsOffice
on Twitter for updates. For information
relating to the storm for people with
disabilities or special needs, please
check, as I said earlier, with Office
of Emergency Management or the Mayor's
Office for People with Disabilities or
"You should also stock up on basic supplies
and make a ‘Go Bag' to take with you
should you have to leave home at a moment's
notice. Your Go Bag should have things
you would need in an emergency, like
drinking water, a first aid kit, a flashlight,
important medications, essential documents,
a little bit of cash.
"You should also take common-sense precautions
in your homes: clean out storm drains
and rain gutters, bring in trash cans
and lawn furniture. There will be a lot
of wind no matter what happens here,
and your trashcans and lawn furniture
can be blown around and ruined. Take
everything off your roof and terraces.
Put it in low areas, and get heavy objects
like gas grills, and close and secure
your windows and doors.
"If you live in a high-rise and it loses
power, you may lose water as well. So
keep a supply of water on hand to drink
and for household use. It would make
some sense tonight to just take a few
big pots and fill them up with water
and leave them on the side. During the
height of the storm, try to use staircases
and avoid using the elevator. Stay away
from windows and close your drapes.
"We have visited every crane site and
every construction site in the city,
and with the winds that are expected
we think they have appropriately tied
down all of the equipment. But if there's
a gust that's a lot more than anybody
had counted on, things could start to
blow. Your windows are not likely to
blow out, but if a piece of something
blows off another building, even if it's
the house next door to you, it could
come right through the window. So closing
your drapes would make some sense.
"If you don't have to be outside during
the storm, don't be. And if you do have
to be outside, please be careful.
"Let me now turn things over to Kevin
Marc La Vorgna/John McCarthy
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