How to Prepare for a Hurricane in New York City: A Semi-Official Guide
Well, that earthquake yesterday kind of took us by surprise. Though, in retrospect, we wouldn't have done it much differently, particularly as it only lasted about 10 seconds. Maybe we would have enjoyed it more, knowing what we do now, being something of an "earthquake expert." (Shut it, California.) Maybe we would have been funnier. But there is a new thing to fear and anticipate mocking snarkily quite literally on the horizon, and that is...a possible hurricane. Hurricane Irene. How best to prepare for a hurricane in New York City? We will tell you.
First of all, dear New Yorkers, there is, in fact, a "Ready New York: Hurricanes and New York City" brochure available for download on the New York City Office of Emergency Management's website. It has some important information, like how to develop a hurricane disaster plan and secure your home, and lists NYC hurricane evacuation zones. It is not very long, so we read it for you! Here are some of its highlights:
The Scary Part: In a major hurricane, storm surge could put some parts of New York City under more than 30 feet of water.
The Debatably Soothing Part: The New York City Office of Emergency Management works to ensure the city is prepared for coastal storms and hurricanes.
The Why a Hurricane Would Especially Suck in New York City Part: If you live in a high-rise building outside an evacuation zone, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor. If you live in a high-rise building located in an evacuation zone, heed evacuation orders. Know where you should go. The middle of Queens is lovely this time of year.
The Inevitable Part About the Go-Bag: Yeah, so, if you're prepared enough to have a go-bag or know what one is you're probably way ahead of us. But if you want to make one -- and it's suggested that you do, so you don't run around grabbing things like your computer and an apple and one sock and then running out the door -- it's also suggested that it include things like granola bars, important documents, your keys, money and credit cards, a flashlight, a radio (like you have one of those) and batteries, medicine, stuff for your kids if you have kids, water, and a potato clock. Not really the potato clock, that's just our suggestion, so you know what time it is.
• Remember, a Watch is different than a Warning. A Watch means, we're watching for it, but it's not happening yet, a/k/a, there is a threat. A Warning means, holy hell, it's coming. Quick, get your apple and your favorite sock!
• "Hurricane conditions" mean winds of 74 mph or higher and/or dangerously high tides or waves. Irene right now is a category 3, as it heads to the Carolinas. It may be "the most powerful hurricane to strike the East Coast of the United States in years." Eeek! It's expected to reach New York as something between a category 2 and a category 1 over the weekend. That means it will have winds between 100 and 80 miles per hour. Weather will be terrible.
• What's an evacuation zone? This means, you should evacuate. How do you know if you're in one? Check www.NYC.gov/hurricanezones, or call 311, or download the map here. This is where waterfront property, especially in Manhattan, and, say, the Hamptons, becomes something of a detriment. See also: Middle of Queens. Who's laughing at whom, now?