Dude, Where's Your 'Go Bag'?

Categories: Fact Check
hurricane map.jpg

Going down, town: Areas of lower Manhattan color-coded by hurricane risk: Orange is highest, followed by yellow and green. (OEM)

With it being Hurricane Preparedness Week, and amid word that the looming Atlantic season could be a real humdinger, Power Plays took the advice from the Office of Emergency Management to heart and checked under the desk for our "emergency supply kit" and "go bag." For shame! We came up empty.

A new report finds that half of New Yorkers have the emergency kits—which are supposed to contain things like iodine tablets and battery-powered radios—although many aren't complete. About a third of city folks, the study found, have their go bags handy, stuffed with items like cash, medications, and important documents.

But Power Plays guesses that most of those kits and bags are stowed safely in people's homes.

In the event of a hurricane (and New York City is considered the third most vulnerable U.S. metropolis to such storms, behind Miami and New Orleans), you'd probably have enough lead time to get home and either open the emergency kit (to shelter in place) or grab your go bag to evacuate. But a recent legislative report found flaws in the city's evacuation plan, including that it "relies on a cumbersome two-tiered shelter system" that could create "significant transportation problems." In a crisis, who knows where you'll be when those bottlenecks begin. And OEM's hurricane risk maps show that substantial areas of Manhattan, where many of us outer-borough types put in our nine-to-fives, are bad places to greet even a modest Category 2 storm.

Plus, a hurricanes isn't the only emergency that could strike. Other events one would flee from—such as a terrorist attack, disease outbreak, or an Eagles' concert—could develop very quickly. So maybe it would make sense for businesses to store emergency supplies, like they did in the days of bomb shelters.

OEM spokesman Jarrod Bernstein, for one, is ready. He keeps a bag in the trunk of his car. "We tell people they should actually have one at home and at work," he says. "As for whether employers provide supplies? It's up to individual companies. Many do." He says it's something the department advises small businesses that they can do, although they don't have to.



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