Coastal Storm

Coastal storms, which include hurricanes, nor’easters, and tropical storms, can cause severe flooding, strong winds, and heavy rain. Strong winds and high waters can create hazards such as falling trees, downed power lines, flying debris and loss of heat, water and power. Be prepared and keep you and your family safe by using these tips.

People at High Risk

Check on Friends, Relatives and Neighbors

Help people most at risk for injury or death from coastal storms with their preparation and evacuation. Check on vulnerable friends, relatives and neighbors after the storm has passed, if it is safe to do so. People most at risk include those who:

  • Live in evacuation zones - visit to find your zone and see if an evacuation order is in effect
  • Are age 65 years or older
  • Are socially isolated, have limited mobility, or are unable to leave the house alone

Before the Storm

Prepare For the Storm

  • Bring in outdoor objects that could cause damage or hurt someone if picked up by the wind. Secure outdoor hazards that cannot be brought in, such as lawn furniture and grills.
  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be the "family contact" in case your family is separated.
  • Sign up for Notify NYC to receive updates about emergencies.
  • Follow directions from officials. Check local news and radio, call 311 or visit NYC Emergency Management - Coastal Storms & Hurricanes. If you are asked to evacuate, do so immediately.

Be Prepared for a Power Outage

  • Keep foods on hand that do not require refrigeration and need little or no cooking.
  • Fill clean bathtubs, sinks and plastic or glass bottles with clean water.
  • In the event of a power outage:
    • Only use battery operated lights. Do not use candles.
    • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to prevent food from spoiling.
    • Move milk, cheese, meats, and other perishables into the freezer compartment. If the freezer is only partially full, keep all items close together and stacked on top of each other.
    • If doors remain closed, food will stay cold in a refrigerator for four hours, in a full freezer for two days, and in a partially-full freezer for one day.
    • Food can become contaminated and cause serious sickness or death if you have had a power outage. Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color or texture. If in doubt, throw it out.

Follow Evacuation Orders

  • Grab your “Go Bag” with your important documents, identification, medication, bottled water, nonperishable food, first aid kit and a battery-operated flashlight and radio. Visit NYC Emergency Management - Go Bag for more information.
  • Stay with friends or family who live outside the evacuation zones. If you have no other shelter, go to an evacuation center. Call 311 to find your nearest evacuation center and for information about transportation options.
  • Note that legal pets and service animals are allowed in all NYC shelters. Be sure to bring your pet’s license, food, leash, cage and medication.
  • If you stay at home:
    • Stay out of basements and move to a higher floor if you live in a location that is at risk for flooding.
    • Stay away from windows that may break during strong winds.
    • If you must go outside, stay away from downed and dangling power lines. Treat all downed lines as if they are live and dangerous.

During the Storm

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm. If your building owner does not provide a carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm, call 311.
  • Never use gas stoves, ovens, grills, kerosene heaters or propane space heaters to heat your home. Kerosene heaters and propane space heaters are illegal in New York City.
  • Only use generators outdoors and away from doors, windows and vents. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you smell gas or your carbon monoxide detector goes off, open the windows, then go outside and call 911.
  • Do not use candles, matches or other open flames to check for leaking gas lines.
  • Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning or are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.
  • Visit our Carbon Monoxide Poisoning page for more information.

Know What to Do If You Lose Water Service

New York City tap water is safe to drink, including in areas with flooding, unless otherwise reported by city officials.

If local authorities inform you that the tap water is unsafe, use your emergency water supplies until instructed otherwise.

If your water service was disrupted, run the tap for at least 30 seconds and until the water runs cold and clear. Replace all ice machine filters and beverage dispenser filters, and flush all water lines for 5 minutes.

Monitor NYC Department of Environmental Protection for updates on NYC drinking water safety.

After the Storm

Stay Safe after the Storm

Even when a storm has passed, outdoor activities may still pose dangerous hazards.

  • Avoid deep standing water, slippery surfaces, unstable trees and branches, unstable structures, or fallen power lines. Call the power company to report fallen power lines and 311 to report unsafe conditions.
  • Take care to avoid injuries.
    • Get help to lift heavy items.
    • Avoid dark staircases if possible. Use flashlights when needed.
    • Secure ladders and use them only on level ground.
  • Do not climb on roofs or attempt to cut down large branches. Call professionals for these types of jobs.
  • Do not surf or perform any other activities in the water until officials say conditions are safe.
  • Avoid driving vehicles in flooded areas and be careful around roadway obstructions.

Cleaning After a Flood

Keep children, pets and people with compromised immune systems away until the area has been cleaned and disinfected.

Use protective eyewear and waterproof gloves and boots when cleaning or coming in contact with sewage.

Remove standing shallow water. Make sure to dry all objects and surfaces thoroughly to avoid mold growth.

Deep water and extensive flood damage may require professional cleanup and restoration.

  • Throw away any food (including packaged food) that may have been touched by sewage water.

Sewage Contamination

Indoor Contamination

To disinfect, wipe surfaces with a bleach solution (half cup bleach in one gallon of water). Non-bleach sanitizers can also be used.

WARNING: Never mix bleach with ammonia or detergents containing ammonia products since dangerous gases may be created. Bleach can damage some materials, so use with caution.

Wash clothes, bedding and other fabrics contaminated with sewage with detergent and water. Dry them thoroughly. Dry clean items that cannot be washed.

If fuel is found floating on top of water in a flooded basement, please refer to NYS Department of Environmental Conservation - Guidance on Oil Cleanup for information on cleanup and reporting oil spills. The oil should be removed before the water is pumped out. If the oil is not removed first, the floors and walls will be coated with oil as the water is removed.

After you finish cleaning, disinfect your boots and gloves with a solution of one half cup household bleach in one gallon of water. Rinse with clear water and allow the boots and gloves to air dry.

Outdoor Contamination

If the sewage spill in your yard is large, hire a sewage cleanup company to do the work. If the spill is small and you choose to do any of the work yourself:

  • Wear protective clothing, including waterproof boots, rubber gloves, safety goggles and clothes that are either washable or disposable.
  • Consider using a dust mask when cleaning to avoid swallowing splashes from the sewage.
  • While cleaning up the affected area, do not touch your nose, mouth, eyes or ears with your hands.
  • Before doing any work, allow the affected part of the yard to dry out and the sewage to break down.
  • Treat the affected area with garden lime, a product that speeds the breakdown of materials and reduces odors. You can purchase garden lime at garden supply and home improvement stores.
  • Keep children and pets out of the yard. Both the sewage and lime can harm their health.
  • If you grow fruits and vegetables, grow plants in containers — and not in the affected soil – for the next year.

Prevent Mold Growth

  • Remove all wet, porous materials.
  • Fix leaks or report them to your building owner as soon as possible.
  • Use dehumidifiers if available. If the power is out, open windows for ventilation.
  • Visit the Health Department’s Mold webpage for more information on preventing mold growth.