Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hurricanes, and what to do about them

Photo courtesy of NASA, Visible Earth.

I read this article from MSN today and it got me thinking. You’d never know it, but NYC is a prime target for Hurricanes. We just don’t get them very often.

Great articles about the history of hurricanes in the NYC area can be found here and here. The History Channel produced a show on the history of hurricanes in the NYC area, and showed what the impact would be if a Category 3 hurricane hit the City, you can buy the DVD or wait for it to be shown on cable again. I watched it last winter, it was a little redundant before commercial breaks and sensational, but had some good information in it. For instance, not being from NYC, I never would have thought to look out for falling water towers or air conditioners. And wouldn't have thought to avoid the subway and tunnels even though they become underground rivers during storm surges.

The coast line along New Jersey and Long Island form a right angle, forcing storms that travel up the eastern seaboard onto land. Hence NYC being a prime spot for Hurricanes. They come every 90 years or so. Did I mention the last one came in 1938?

Waves striking a seawall in Queens, 1938 (NWS Historic Collection)
Photo hacked from NYC OEM.

Today’s post is a down and dirty guide to a topic near and dear to my heart. Emergency Preparedness.

  • NYC Office of Emergency Management: Download the Ready NY Hurricane Guide and the Evacuation Zones map. If you're in a flood zone, make plans on how you're going to get out of the area.

  • Pack two "Go Bags" keep one at work and one at home. Don't forget to plan for critical medications that you need like an inhaler or insulin shots, etc., and more general things like asprin and hand sanitizer.

  • Store enough water at home to last you at least three days. 1 gallon of water per person, per day. Why for three days? Because historically disaster recovery agencies have said it takes them three days to set-up. (Yes they gave out this advice Pre-Katrina, it's nothing new.) Ever heard of a "72 hour kit"? They're called that for a reason.

  • Maintain a small food storage, so in the event that food can't be shipped into the city, or you run out of money until the end of the month, you won't starve.

  • Carry $40 in emergency cash on you and keep another stash at home. If the power's out, the ATM's will not be working...

  • Keep a pair of old sneakers at work, so if public transit is down you won't have to walk home in those darling pointy toed shoes with the kitten heal.

  • Make a copy of all your important documents and seal them in a plastic bag, i.e. passports, birth certificates, drivers liscense, insurance policy, social security card, etc. then put it in your Go Bag. Life will be so much simpler, if you happen to have to re-establish your life, if you can quickly prove who you are.

  • And the nifty-est item on the list, courtesy of the 21st Century, pack a flash-drive with your Go Bag. Keep pdf's of important documents, back-ups of your personal finances, investments, bank account data, photos of your dog. Password protected of course. In the aftermath of a disaster, all you'll have to do is gain access to a computer, and bingo, you're good to go.

And there you have it, a down and dirty quick guide of things you should be doing right now. Because you know, it doesn't have to be a Hurricane, it could be a Transit Strike, or a Flu Pandemic, or roaches driving you out. If you have to flee quickly or hunker down at home, you might as well be prepared.



  1. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who think they can create a 72 hour kit and then when the time comes to use it, they're missing something. Thanks for this post, people really should do their research to be really prepared for an emergency.

  2. Hey Yummytork thanks for the great link! :)