August 25, 2011

Are you in a "hurricane evacuation zone" in New York City?

Have you noticed how weird and unrealistic it is?
What does it mean for me to live in a "zone"? If the city issues a "hurricane evacuation order," the government will order me to leave my home "immediately" and either (a) stay in an area that's not in a "zone" (which, again, could be as close as 3 blocks away) or (b) go to a "hurricane center." Where's the closest "hurricane center"? Oh, between 192nd and 193rd St. In order to get there, I'd need to travel almost the whole length of Manhattan....

What's really going on here is that the government is trying to signal that it is taking the hurricane very, very seriously — so seriously that it has a plan for evacuating a large portion of the city. The truth is, that's impossible. So the government makes up some arbitrary rules, as if the hurricane is going to carefully observe these neat distinctions between the various streets of Greenwich Village.

98 comments:

rcocean said...

More Trooper Bait.

traditionalguy said...

From the Georgia coast inland for 100 miles the Interstate 16 has gates installed so that the 2 lanes going to the coast can be reversed and all traffic go inland.

They installed that after Hugo which leveled the area around Charleston and flooded the lower 30 feet of the homes on Charleston harbor.

But so far God has preserved the Georgia coastline.

Titus said...

I believe Hurricanes are so much more important when they are going to hit the East Coast. And when interviewing those residents the conversation is much more interesting than hearing an interview with Bubba who has 4 teeth, lives in a trailer and lives in Biloxi.

Some of the Libyan Rebels are hot.

Titus said...

I did see an interview with the mayor of Charleston, SC though and thought he was kind of fab.

I was shocked.

Titus said...

I hope the Lady Chablis is safe.

Is she is Savannah or Charleston or does she travel back and forth?

Tom said...

A tip on when to evacuate from a hurricane. If your driver’s license says Florida, get out of Dodge now.

Matthew said...

Not worried one little bit, as I live in the Todt Hill/Lighthouse Hill section of Staten Island, the highest point on the eastern seaboard south of Maine (430 ft. above sea level).

I also have a good quantity of ammunition available should the City 'temporarily' relocate the dregs of the other Boroughs here to make it look as if Bloomberg 'did something'.

David said...

Get your ass to Utica would be my advice. (Though they are not set up for 15,000,000 people.)

Titus said...

Which is more fab Charleston or Savannah?

I drove through Utica on my way to Wisconsin. Depressing. I think I would rather be taken away by the ocean.

I did someone from Utica. He was Italian. He told me lots of Italians live there.

David said...

Matthew said...
Not worried one little bit, as I live in the Todt Hill/Lighthouse Hill section of Staten Island, the highest point on the eastern seaboard south of Maine (430 ft. above sea level).

Yeah, that's primo. You should be nicely exposed to the wind.

All kidding aside, be careful.

David said...

Titus, Joe Riley of Charleston may be the best mayor in the country. He thinks, he communicates and he isn't full of shit.

Youngblood said...

The biggest risk to New Yorkers will be flooding.

You see, Manhattan is an island, and it's a very rocky island at that. If the city does flood, the likelihood of water pooling up depends on things like available drainage, the relative height of one street in relation to another, and so on.

Those factors can be very different over fairly short distances. So the hurricane may not "carefully observe ... neat distinctions", but water flows and pools in predictable ways.

For all I know, the various zone designations may very well be completely arbitrary. However, just because the various zones are just blocks apart doesn't mean that they are.

DADvocate said...

This hurricane has disaster written all over it. People forget that the water, rain and storm surge, does more damage than the wind. If it tracks as currently predicted, a large portion of the east coast, including NYC, will be hit and they won't be ready. Not enough people will evacuate anything except their bowels.

Maguro said...

Nanny Bloomberg has top men on this. Top men.

David said...

"as if the hurricane is going to carefully observe these neat distinctions between the various streets of Greenwich Village."

The hurricane won't, but the flood waters might.

They aren't entirely stupid in the government.

Matthew said...

Not worried about the wind at all, as this house was built some 65 years ago with REAL BRICKS and thick timbers, and it ain't one of those 600K cardboard, cookie-cutter Mc Mansions 'they' put up all over the place in the last 20 yrs.

Thanks for your concern, though!

Titus said...

The guy I did from Utica was going to Med School at Tufts. He was married. His wife was an Aerobics Instructor. He told me that if I met his wife it would be easier for him to sneak out because she then would know he was going out with. I said no.

He then had an internship at Yale, moved to Sarasota to be a doctor. This was over 10 years ago.

I googled him over the past year and he is now a doc in San Francisco and is on the San Francisco Gay Tennis Team.

And I am not kidding he is a Guyno doc.

He told me that if he ever decided to leave his wife he would find me...and he didn't.

Fucker.

Scott said...

I live in Clifton, NJ which is more than 150 feet above sea level. And, I'm also buying a house in Rahway that is in a "500 year flood zone" and is 20 feet above sea level. It's also on the Rahway river and just a few miles from the ocean. But I don't close until after labor day, so if the place gets flooded, the seller will be responsible for rectifying the situation, not me.

Carol_Herman said...

Winds are fierce. Trees get uprooted. And, it pays to stay indoors.

Mother Nature isn't to be fooled with! At least we can try to foretell what happens.

Once, I think, New York got hit by Hurricane Carol.

Then? I think there was a Hugo.

The "evacuation" just means idiots get into the cars and start driving. Making everything worse.

Oh, yeah. Stores should board up their windows. (Replacing windows is expensive.)

And, anyone planning a big wedding? Well, there goes "that" deposit. And, all those plans.

Then? What if it veers west? And, then just roils the water?

Is it better without weather reports? The good news is that hospitals have backup generators.

rcocean said...

Question: Has anyone ever died from a natural disaster (Hurricane, flood, tornado, earthquake, landslide) in NYC?

I think its one of the safest cities in USA, in that regard.

Matthew said...

@rc

People have been killed around here during a natural disaster for a variety of reasons.

Trees get uprooted and fall.

Roofs collapse.

Ambulances can't get through three feet of unplowed snow.

People get struck by emergency vehicles travelling at breakneck speed to yet another domestic dispute over Miracle Whip at an address 'known to the police' during squirrel-induced blackouts.

It's not the disaster that kills them so much as the random chaos that comes afterwards.

Personally,I'm hoping that certain sections of Manhattan are reclaimed by the Hudson and East Rivers when the ancient landfill they're built upon finally gives way.

Those areusually the neighborhoods the Libtards live in.

Titus said...

I met one of his friends from Utica who came to Boston and the friend told him he thought I was campy.

I was devastated.

We would meet after work, do it, and then he would pick his wife from Aerobics Class.

Her name was Edna and her speciality was "step". She even went to Step Seminars and Conferences.

They lived in South Boston and I did it with him in their bed. It was weird and I felt awful afterward.

He and I met at Carson Beach in Southie.

He worked part time as a bartender at the old Channel Bar. I saw Violent Femmes there with him.

He has a small dick but amazing body. He's bald, but good bald.

He worked out at the L Street Gym on the beach. The gym has a nude beach attached. I would go to the gym with him. The guys at that gym were fucking incredible. The huge showers were amazing. Long, hot hogs, soaping up, checking out other hogs. Every minority group represented. Heaven.

I did brake up with him though because I couldn't deal with it anymore.

Maguro said...

Wonder if James Wolcott is cheering this hurricane on. Doesn't he live in NYC?

Youngblood said...

Rcocean,

Over thirty died in the hurricane that struck New York in 1893, which I think was the last hurricane to hit New York City.

Matthew said...

I seem to recall at least three other hurricanes hitting near New York during my lifetime.

The only one I can remember by name was Hurricane Belle (1976, I think?).

I do recall one sometime in the mid 80's, when I was stuck working at 2 World Trade Center (if I remember, our data center was on the 74th floor) and feeling the building sway, and listening to it creak, and watching the raised floor buckle with the motion, threatening to dislodge entire banks of the old IBM 3380 disk drives (a set of four of those things weighed nearly 3 tons).

Scary.

bagoh20 said...

Predictions include highest storm surges in history on the east coast.

Well, there goes the last remaining Obama promise - broken like all the rest. Suckers!

Roger J. said...

most people are stupid and will not recognize the danger--fuck em stupidity works in darwinan selection

bagoh20 said...

Titus, Thanks to you, I will never be gay. I was considering it, but you always make it sound so unsatisfying. Maybe that's why gays are so promiscuous. I don't have that kind of time for such a poor return.

Yes, it's all your fault.

Quaestor said...

David wrote:
and he isn't full of shit.

You just crushed Titus's dream date

chickenlittle said...

NYC barely escaped the Long Island Express hurricane in 1938. A less inhabited eastern Long Island bore the brunt of the category 3 storm.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Youngblood and David: If you're right that flooding is the biggest danger (which I said in the blog post), what about the fact that the orders are given with no regard to how high up I am in my in-the-zone apartment or how low down I'd be in my out-of-the-zone escape?

By the way, when you go from the in-the-zone area to the out-of-the-zone area by my apartment, you're walking on land that's almost totally flat. So I don't believe that "the relative height of one street in relation to another" is enough of a factor to justify telling one group of people they need to go up to 192nd St. and stay there, but letting the other group stay at home. It's arbitrary.

Matthew said...

Youngblood said:

"For all I know, the various zone designations may very well be completely arbitrary."

They probably are. Around here, the designated evacuation center is located at a High School, which is located in the heart of the Egbertville Ravine -- part of one of the best-maintained natural runoff system in all of America, maybe, The Greenbelt -- which is supposed to ship runoff into the Arthur Kill.

That system hasn't been seriously tested since the restoration of wetlands began here in earnest some 20+ years ago, and I'd hate to be in that gymnasium a-wishin' and a-hopin'.

Youngblood said...

Matthew,

They were making a really big deal about it earlier on the Weather Channel, but they may have been talking about a direct hit on Manhattan as opposed to New York more generally?

Looking up the list of hurricanes that hit the area in the 20th century seems to support that -- there were a lot of storms that hit, clipped, or passed close to Long Island, but no direct hits on Manhattan.

And yeah, apparently lots of people have died as a result of hurricanes in the New York area (the worst single storm seems to have been the New England Hurricane of 1938, which killed over 60 in the New York area).

Quaestor said...

Flooding isn't the biggest danger. The biggest danger is the looting and mayhem that could follow in the wake of massive power outages.

JAL said...

The subways will be shut down if the winds exceed 40 mph? (According to a comments over at JAC's)

Is that true? I could swear I have been in the City when the winds have been more than 40 mph. (Those canyons are killers in the winter.)

Are they afraid the el might be blown off the track?

Not to mention that depending how far in JAC lives, and whether it is high tide or not, the third floor theoretically might not be safe enough.

But definitely, anyone living lower or in a below street level apartment has got to load up their precious stuff and get out.

Now that I think about it, Trooper is probably packing Lee Lee's Valise for real.

Thoughts and prayers, Trooper.

MadisonMan said...

Not worried about the wind at all, as this house was built some 65 years ago with REAL BRICKS and thick timbers,

You want to worry about things that are blown into your house. But that is something you cannot control, really. And also how well attached your roof is. Once the roof goes, the walls soon follow. I don't suspect that'll be a problem with Irene in Metro NY, however, unless tornadoes get spawned (and that's not a rare occurrence with a hurricane).

This'll be an interesting storm. Flooding rains with the predecessor rain event -- soften up the ground so trees can topple easily. Philly has already had their wettest month ever this month, too!

S said...

When I read that, Ann, I hear you.

I'm in Rochester, NY. I'd say "party at my place," but I'll be at the in-laws' near Syracuse this weekend. They might also end up hosting my brother and his wife from the Bronx. But I don't think I can invite y'all.

Matthew said...

Any 'direct hit' on Manhattan must pass over/through Brooklyn and Staten Island first, and given the narrow entrance to New York Harbor (it's called The Narrows for a reason, after all) a 'direct hit' is rather unlikely in terms of the the storm itself advancing into New York Harbor.

What's more likely to happen is that the storm surge that'll get pushed through the Narrows floods Lower New York Bay, with knock-on effects up the Hudson and East Rivers (that surge would go against the current of both rivers) and the Arthur Kill (which separates Staten Island from New Jersey).

That would definitely flood a good portion of Manhattan and most of the New Jersey cities along the Hudson.

Beth said...

Jonathan,

We used to rely on "vertical evacuation" in New Orleans, and I'm sure folks in Houston have relied on that, too. But you should expect, or at least the expect the possibility of, shattered glass, no lights, dark stairwells, no air circulating. It will be more than just uncomfortable.

Flooding here after the levees broke post-Katrina differed widely from one block to the next. In a terrain that isn't particularly hilly, the change in a couple of feet of elevation, over a block or across a wide boulevard, is barely noticeable while walking or driving. Unless you've taken a look at Army Corps of Engineers flood zone maps, I'm not sure how you can be sure the city's demarcation of zones is abitrary.

But the same experience tells me that yes, cities do stuff to say they're doing stuff. I say have a plan, and go for caution, not cynicism.

If I lived within Irene's cone, I'd be emptying my refrigerator right now. There's no describing what it's like getting rid of a refrigerator after a couple of weeks with no power, in the summer.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Not to mention that depending how far in JAC lives, and whether it is high tide or not, the third floor theoretically might not be safe enough.

But I think it's safer than someone a few blocks away who's on the ground or basement level.

rcocean said...

Thanks for the responses. I didn't know about the 1893 Hurricane.

Matthew said...

@Madison Man

Had a new roof installed four years ago, and got that them strap-down thingies (I forget what they call the steel straps they attach to all the load-bearing timbers to keep them from flying apart) included in the deal just for the insurance discount.

Nice wrought-iron window guards and heavy, locakable shutters, too.
Only thing that worries me is the neighbor's 200 year old Elm. It's been raining to beat the band around here for the better part of two weeks, and the ground is super soaked.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Unless you've taken a look at Army Corps of Engineers flood zone maps, I'm not sure how you can be sure the city's demarcation of zones is abitrary.

I didn't say there's no actual difference between the different zones. People keep responding to part of what I wrote without considering the whole situation. Being in one zone means you're supposed to go to a different zone, or go up to 192nd St. and stay in a "hurricane center" (whatever that is). When I'm on the 3rd floor very close to the borderline of a zone, crossing that borderline to be in a basement would not make sense. And I find it unimaginable that huge portions of Manhattan and perhaps other boroughs are all going to suddenly take the subway to 192nd St. and stay there. (Also, my name isn't Jonathan.)

chickenlittle said...

William Manchester gave the 1938 hurricane several pages in his The Glory And The Dream. People had no warning back then: no radar and no inkling that a hurricane was coming ashore. Manchester wrote:

Among the striking stories which later came to light was the experience of a Long Islander who had bought a barometer a few days earlier in a New York store. It arrived in the morning post September 21, and to his annoyance the needle pointed below 29, where the dial read "Hurricanes and Tornadoes." He shook it and banged it against a wall; the needle wouldn't budge. Indignant, he repacked it, drove to the post office, and mailed it back. While he was gone, his house blew away.

Youngblood said...

John,

Your apartment is on the third floor, but the exit isn't. If there's significant flooding, your way out may very well be submerged in water that's riddled with pathogens. If something happens and they need to get you out after the flooding, then emergency personnel will be required to find a way to safely rescue you in the midst of a totally chaotic situation.

That's what local authorities are really worried about. They do not give a single shit about whether or not individual apartments flood or sustain damage. They care about having to allocate rescue personnel to save people who could have totally avoided a dangerous situation.

As I said, I'm not familiar with the specific zone designations. They may be arbitrary. From what I've read, I know that Zone A (Coney Island, the Rockaways, Battery Park City, and I think South Beach and Midland Beach) seems pretty sensible, at least.

Good luck with whatever decision you make if they do evacuate your zone, and stay safe.

Matthew said...

@John

Unless you're in the vicinity of Kip's/Turtle Bay, or directly across from the Pallisades, I should think you're alright.

If you're Midtown or thereabouts, on the West Side of Central Park, I'd say you may have some trouble.

Matthew said...

Sorry, that was supposed to be EAST side of Central Park. To the West of Central Park, Manhattan island starts to get into some higher elevations.

John Althouse Cohen said...

They care about having to allocate rescue personnel to save people who could have totally avoided a dangerous situation.

And what's your basis for supposing that going from an apartment on Thompson St. to an apartment on LaGuardia St. would "totally avoid a dangerous situation"?

John Althouse Cohen said...

Matthew, as I said in the blog post, I'm in Greenwich Village (not the West Village).

And I do believe I'm in danger. I just think other people in a slightly different area of Greenwich Village are also in danger.

Matthew said...

John, I would think the biggest danger in the Village from this storm would be the flooding IN THE SUBWAYS.

They're (this is the meterologist people on TV) are talking a CAT 2-to-lower-end CAT 3 storm, bringing with it a 12-15' storm surge, which if it entered New York Harbor, is going to be fighting the river currents on it's way in.

Simply moving three or four blocks south (from Thompson to La Guardia) probably does you no good in terms of avoiding some pretty decent flooding, BUT it does have the singular advantage that the Bloomdouche Administration will be able to say 'we did our (predictably lousy) best'.

If I were you, I'd head UPTOWN and West (where there's higher ground, say around Columbia U.) or, if possible, head West into New Jersey (away from the coastal areas). If you need a nice little place to hunker down about an hour inland, I can suggest some nice NJ towns with beautiful views just an hour from the Port Authrority Bus Terminal with cheap hotels and B&B's.

John Althouse Cohen said...

John, I would think the biggest danger in the Village from this storm would be the flooding IN THE SUBWAYS.

Of course, the subways are exactly where they strongly encourage you to go in the event of an evacuation order.

Simply moving three or four blocks south (from Thompson to La Guardia)

That isn't three or four blocks south, that's one (extremely short) block east.

Matthew said...

I was close. My Village geography is a little off these days, since I no longer go there to drink.

Head North and West, Young Man, and invest in them big-ass Tupperware Conatainers to store whatever you can't carry with you in case you decide to leave.

Bender said...

Has anybody heard from President Nagin on this? Has he come off the golf course yet? Will he return to D.C.? Has he had a conference call with all the governors of the eastern states to coordinate a response?

Matthew said...

LastI heard, President Frequent-Flyer-Miles was ordering school buses all along the east coast to be parked in pre-flooded lots ahead of the storm, and busily preparing his 250th "It's All George Bush's Fault" speech.

The Teleprompters have already been loaded aboard Air Farce One, suitably shrink wrapped to protect them against storm damage.

radar said...

Personally I would head of of the city ASAP rather than chance a flooding situation or the chaotic aftermath of a serious flood in NYC, which seems all too likely at this point.

Pretty soon it is going to be too late to get people out of the way of the storm surge at which point I think things are going to get pretty ugly on the highways and mass transit.

Canuck said...

Isn't it predicted to only be a 1 by the time it hits NYC?

JAL said...

Lee Lee's Valise is supposed to be in a non nevacuations zone. But I bet Troop is still making plans to keep it safe.

chickenlittle -- my husband and I were just talking about that great barometer story (we were familiar with it). He forgot the part about the house blowing away ;-) (apocryphal?)

@ Matthew - JAC lives in Greenwich Village -- you know that little place? Just above the Battery?

I think it's the fact that Manhatten is surrounded on all sides by water and is relatively narrow which is the problem.

Coney Island, Rockaway Park and JFK may get creamed.

My mom and dad were married in NYC 4days week before the 1938 hurricane. They were there. I think they lived on 15th street at the time. The NJ ferries were all up on the streets when it was over. As someone pointed out people did die. The Long Island Express

Youngblood said...

John,

I lived in New York for a few years, but I'm not a civil engineer, and I'm not familiar with the city's infrastructure and drainage patterns. So I'll concede (again!) that the zone designations may actually be entirely arbitrary. (The first evacuation zone, Zone A, seems sensible.)

The point that I was making is that, from the point of view of the people who draw up such plans, the real problem is tying up valuable resources in a chaotic situation. Maybe you're right and they're just making shit up to make it look like they know what they're doing; I'm cynical enough to entertain that possibility.

However, if there is a method to their madness (and, once again, I concede that there might not be), then someone who thinks "I live on the third floor, I'll be fine," is a big problem as far as resource allocation goes.

Matthew said...

Depends, Canuck.

FoxNews just said winds of 50 MPH, and storm surge of 6-10' by the time it hits NYC, proper, but it'll still be a CAT 2 when it hits South Jersey.

Katrina was a CAT 3 when it hit New Orleans, but because it slowed down when it made landfall it was able to stick around long enough to keep churning and dumping rain.

A CAT 1 that is relatively stationary over a prolonged period does some serious damage.

Youngblood said...

John,

Oh! Reading further, I realize that I got the wrong idea from your posts and comments. Sorry about that.

JAL said...

This article in Yankee is quite a description of what happened on Long Island and Rhode Island on September 21, 1938.

This struck me:
On that morning the New York Times ran an editorial praising the U.S. Weather Service for keeping Americans so well informed about potentially hazardous weather movements, especially tropical cyclones or Atlantic hurricanes. The forecast for New York on that same day was cloudy and cool weather with increasing winds.

Sorta' like the New York Times publishing Bill Ayer's on September 11, 2001.

Weird.

Matthew said...

Yes JAL, I am a Native New Yorker, thanks. I know where the Village is, having been born on the Lower East Side and living in this city almost my entire 44 years.

If John lived on the East Side, or in Battery Park, proper, I'd tell him to start shitting himself right now, buthe doesn't. I think he's just been spooked by all the doom-and-gloom talk, which I can understand.

But he does have options other than what Mayor Doucheberg is offering.

JAL said...

Lem -- aren't you in New Jersey?

Or are you wherever your mom is these days? (How is she doing?)

William said...

I live in NYC where I felt my first earthquake tremor just the other day. I believe this is what novelists call foreshadowing. We are all doomed. We go about our petty affairs while the cosmic forces of darkness gather about us. Soon people will talk about life in the pre-Irene days in the wistful, longing way of old men remembering their youth.

John Althouse Cohen said...

However, if there is a method to their madness (and, once again, I concede that there might not be), then someone who thinks "I live on the third floor, I'll be fine," is a big problem as far as resource allocation goes.

Come on. No one in this thread is even defending this policy. At most, people are picking on my characterization of the lines as arbitrary. Fine. But I don't believe that anyone here seriously believes I'll be safer if I leave my apartment (which I at least know my way around) and go to some other apartment right by here that I'm unfamiliar with, or if I and millions of other New Yorkers simultaneously try to take the subway (which might be shut down, according to MTA Chairman Jay H. Walder in this article) up to 192nd St. That isn't going to happen, and I don't believe that anyone seriously believes it's going to happen.

Matthew said...

John, if you're that worried, then leave now while you still have @48 hours (predicted landfall in the NYC area is Sunday night @midnight).

If you need some help getting out, then say so, and maybe someone will help you, or give you some sounder advice on where to get some help evacuating.

Personally, I believe the 'authorities' are engaged in building up the severity of one possibility in an attempt to a) cover their asses and b) to be able to say later on 'see? we were really, really prepared!'

You're right to be concerned -- fair enough. But if you've lived here any appreciable length of time, you'll also realize that whatever the current administration in this city does, it usually does strictly for Public Relations and Political purposes, and not for reasons of common sense.

Matthew said...

Here's a possibility that literally just occurred to me:

What if The City's eagerness to get people into Shelters has a purpose other than potentially saving lives or avoiding wasting rescue and recovery resources on doofuses too dumb to get out the path of a hurricane that has been hyped as the Stormof the Millenium?

What of the REAL purpose is to herd many of the lower classes into City Shelters -- where many will be eager to partake of the 'free' accomodations,and will probably believe there's 'free' food and water, to boot -- in order to keep them under surveilance, so as to avoid the worst sort of post-Katrina looting, pillging and shooting?

Don't put it past City governments, especially this one, to engage in hyperbole for the purposes of avoiding the bad press that comes with the CNN footage of your local Foot Locker or Jewelry Store being ransacked by the Urban Youth taking advantage of the state of emergency to do a little 'shopping' for themselves.

Yeah, I know...cynical.

Col Mustard said...

Bad Timing Department: My daughter lives in Queens. She and her busband recently decided to add a full 2nd story to their home. Demolition of roof and attic started Tuesday. I'm thinking the re-model may be more extensive than planned.

Beth said...

When I'm on the 3rd floor very close to the borderline of a zone, crossing that borderline to be in a basement would not make sense.

I would not go into a basement to wait out a hurricane anywhere, under any circumstances. That's insane.

Quaestor said...

I've checked the tides for the NYC area on Sunday. Since hurricanes winds cycle anti-clockwise the East River would be the body of water most important as far as flooding on Manhattan is concerned. High tide will be four or more hours before Irene is predicted to arrive. Low tide will around 2 AM Monday.

I predict storm surge will be minimal -- maybe ankle deep in the street on the Lower East Side. Probable none at all from Harlem on up. Flood waters are likely to flush the storm sewers onto some of the lower lying streets. Not healthy at all, so don't go wading. Injuries and deaths are most likely to arise from wind-driven broken glass and debris. Power outages and broken-down transport are your biggest worries, JAC.

Beth said...

John, do you have a car, and if so, have you ruled out packing up some things, pets if you have any, and leaving? I am very, very glad we did for Katrina.

But from what I'm seeing on weatherunderground.com, Irene will drop to a Cat 1 after making landfall in North Carolina. That's less worrisome than the tone of the ongoing news coverage would indicate.

Canuck said...

"FoxNews just said winds of 50 MPH, and storm surge of 6-10' by the time it hits NYC, proper, but it'll still be a CAT 2 when it hits South Jersey."

That's not good -- especially the storm surge.

I have no idea why NYC is suggesting that John move over 3 blocks. Maybe it has something to do with the predicted storm surge.

For a CAT 1 I wouldn't worry unless I was in a mobile home or in the path of a storm surge. But there's no guarantee the CAT drops. The Atlantic & Gulf is warmer this year.

If you have any doubt about your saftey, get out of the city and go to higher ground ASAP.

edutcher said...

For crying out loud.

"Hurricane evacuation zone"?

People are acting as if this is the first hurricane (or bad storm at all) to come up the East Coast.

You take your precautions. You stay indoors (or split, if you're on or near the water). But people are going on as if this is the Apocalypse.

Bloomie needs to go on Zoloft.

And Xanax.

Seriously.

PS I say this having ridden out a couple of storms like this.

Paul Zrimsek said...

You surprise me. I'd assumed that Bloomberg would respond to the hurricane threat by banning refined sugar.

Roux said...

The sky is falling! the sky is falling!!!

Pogo said...

The racist hurricane hegemony calls for some serious union protests.

I would be glad to sign some work excuses.

Roger J. said...

Ms Beth--where have you been, girl? good to see you back, and providing good advice as well

Clyde said...

If I was in New York City, I'd be thinking that this is a pretty good weekend to visit Niagara Falls. As a Floridian who caught the edge of Charley in 2004 and had my power knocked out for almost a week by Wilma (that bitch!) in 2005, I can tell you that hurricanes are no fun at all. Wilma was a borderline Cat 2 when it came through. I lost a lot of shingles from the roof to the 90+ mph winds, lots of trees and power lines down. Most of the area got power back within a day or two, but our neighborhood was out for six days.

The scary part about Irene is the potential for major storm surge much higher than would be expected from the windspeed, because of the new moon causing higher than normal tides and because the sheer size of the storm, much like what Ike did to the area east of Galveston a few years ago. Bottom line, if you are in an area vulnerable to storm surge and your local emergency management tells you to evacuate, LISTEN TO THEM!

Good luck to all in the path of the storm.

Kit said...

Sounds to me, something similar to the tornado watch boundaries. They have to start and stop somewhere, right? I mean... does the county line really mean any thing to the tornado? I think not.

Regardless, give me a blizzard, any day over a hurricane - snow tends to stay outside. Floods, not so much.

chuckR said...

In 1938, there was no good place to be along the coast from eastern LI to the Cape. A large number of the deaths occurred in the "bad quadrant", to the east of the eye. NY'er's should be thankful it looks like this thing will pass to their east.

John Burgess said...

Living in FL, I'm accustomed to three levels of evacuation zones. They do indeed change by altitude, though we're talking a matter of 20 feet at the most. Then there are declivities, areas where water is going to go when it starts to run off. Proximity to the water, of course, also counts, including running water like rivers and streams.

But 20 feet can matter when you're measuring storm surge in the 8-10 foot range.

Besides those two factors, there's also building construction to be factored in. Mobile homes are always included in Zone 1, no matter where they physically might be for several miles inland. They tend to blow away in hurricane-force winds.

There are lots of highrises on and near the beach, i.e., Zone 1. Some of them, the modern ones, can stand up to hurricanes. Older ones aren't up to current code due to grandfathering, so if I lived in one of those I'd likely be looking for the exit upon getting a Hurricane Watch warning.

As is, I'm in a non-mandatory zone, but still a block and a half from the nearest shelter. Given the age of my building and its construction, I figure I'm good for up to a CAT-3 storm. I'm likely to loose roof tiles and to lose electricity and phones (and Internet) for days if not weeks, but not lose my home. A CAT-4 will see me on the Interstate heading off the peninsula.

Curious George said...

My business partner and our HQ is in Newport. They are simply going to hunker down and ride it out. The office is near the water, but on the fourth floor. I suppose if the windows stay intact all should be okay. But I may have them send out my check today rather than the 30th :-)

MadisonMan said...

Irene will drop to a Cat 1 after making landfall in North Carolina. That's less worrisome than the tone of the ongoing news coverage would indicate.

True.

I lived through Bob in 1991, and the real problem is afterwards, when there is no power. So don't put things in your fridge now, and eat up your frozen foods. If your water is pumped to your faucet, fill jugs now. Take a hot shower now while you can.

The advantage to living through a hurricane, even a Cat-1, in the northeast vs. the Gulf Coast is that it's not so stinking hot and humid after the storm passes. No power means no a/c and no fans.

boldface said...

Well, this is interesting: a map of storm surge zones in and around NYC. John, looks like there could be some flooding in your neighborhood, but dry toward the middle of the island.

Out where I am in Queens, near St. John's University, we're totally dry, even with a Cat 5. But lord help Battery Park City.

JAL said...

Hi Beth.

We have missed you.

School started yet?

DADvocate said...

I imagine the winds around the skyscrapers could be greatly accelerated. In Cincinnati, the wind speed doubles or more around some buildings. The much taller buildings in NYC would probably increase this effect.

Bartender Cabbie said...

Bloomberg should ban the hurricane.

hoop said...

Well, I'll defend the way they do evacuation zones.

The people who chart this stuff out know full well that hurricanes don't run in tight lines like a zone seems to imply. Living on one side or the other of a block obviously isn't going to assure anybody of more or less security, even if the hurricane were only two hours away. The people who map and chart hurricane impact futures see things in terms of probabilites, with a lot of fuzz.

The problem is communication.

In disaster planning, you have to assume that the people you're talking to don't necessarily understand fuzzy regions of probabilities where things might or might not happen, so you end up simplifying the distributions. It gets simplified somewhat into the maps you see at NOAA's website, where they show the three- and five-day projections.

Then when you plan for cities, it gets simplified further for two reasons. First, it's easier for the city to develop and execute an emergency plan. Second, it's easier for people to understand.

So you set conservative bounds on your probabilities, then pick "zones" based on convenient landmarks. That allows you to write simple, easy-to-understand evacuation orders and allows emergency personnel to readily understand where they need to be.

Disaster preparation is a messy business. There are huge error bars on all of the data. But people don't listen if you don't simplify it.

So yes, it's ugly, but it's more effective than putting out the explicit data.

(Now, could they handle it better? Probably. I won't dispute their quality, but the concept itself isn't the problem.)

chuckR said...

You are your own first responder. Emergency services are going to deal with real emergencies, not someone's discomfort. Hurricane Bob is what persuaded me to get a generator - not a real an option for high rise or apt dwellers. Ol' Bob wasn't much of a storm by the time it got to us, but afterwards my house was w/o power for a week plus. A decent generator isn't cheap, but I get to use it for real once every few years. Example, a cruise ship drags the hook and pulls the plug on the power cable supplying my area. Or more likely some drunk center punches a pole and gets a transformer in the bargain. Or an ice storm. Can power the well pump, furnace/water heater, fridge, freezer but not all at once. Its surprising how fast the power draw adds up.
Bonus - got plenty of beer and ice from a party a while back, but that's just dumb luck, not planning.

garage mahal said...

No power means no a/c and no fans.

We got hit by Frances, and then Jeanne shortly thereafter in 2004. No power for 14 days after Frances, and I think 5-6 days after Jeanne. Hard to describe how frustrating it is driving by your place everyday checking to see if you have power or not, or seeing everyone across the street having power, and you don't. I remember on the 10th day or so of living in a hotel defiantly taking the family back to our digs, and telling them we're going to have to stick it out. Then 15 minutes later sitting in a sweltering Africa-hot apartment, "ok, back to goddam hotel!"

Nothing, and I mean nothing, stinks quite like a dead anemone.

John said...

I live in Fajardo Puerto Rico on the northeast corner. We just went through Irene here. It was not a hurricane when it passed over my house but it still tore down a big tree in my house and lots of other trees all around. The roads were pretty well impassable for a while.

As if moved across the island it became a Cat 1 hurricane and caused massive flooding and damage.

My house sticks up like a thumb, 1/4 mile back and 90' up from the ocean. When Hugo came through in 89 it was a cat 5 and passed directly over my house. It blew out the kitchen door (among other things) and carried my refrigerator 100 yards down the street.

When Georges came through in 98 it passed directly over my house as a Cat 5. We were better prepared this time. Georges knocked down every concrete power pole on a 5 mile stretch of highway. Among other things. It was 4-5 weeks before power was completely restored and this was bringing in 1000 or more workers from Texas and Florida utilities.

Most houses in PR are concrete. Even those had walls knocked down in some cases. Many wooden houses didn't survive at all.

My point here is that hurricanes are no joke at all. If you live anywhere near where it is going to hit, take it very, very, VERY seriously.

Remember that Katrina didn't really hit NO. It was mostly flooding from the levees breaking. Your model should be Missisipi. Go back and look at the wind damage there. Whole areas look like Joplin MO after the twister.

John Henry

Bender said...

Still waiting to hear if anyone's seen or heard from President Nagin.

How long does it take to play a round of golf???

PatCA said...

NYC is just trying to control the chaos even though there is no way to mitigate damage totally. Planning does help. I think they learned that on 9/11.

Just leave, kid, and don't let your mother worry!

chuckR said...

garage

I gotta know - was the anemone a family pet of some sort?

garage mahal said...

John Henry:

Sharks swimming in streets of Puerto Rico.

can I ask if you live in PR to work, or because you just like to live there?

-------------------

chuckR
Yea, I just finished a pretty nice saltwater tank. Then, no power = dead tank. Some of the live rock made it, but I lost everything else.

cubanbob said...

garage mahal said...
No power means no a/c and no fans.

We got hit by Frances, and then Jeanne shortly thereafter in 2004. No power for 14 days after Frances, and I think 5-6 days after Jeanne. Hard to describe how frustrating it is driving by your place everyday checking to see if you have power or not, or seeing everyone across the street having power, and you don't. I remember on the 10th day or so of living in a hotel defiantly taking the family back to our digs, and telling them we're going to have to stick it out. Then 15 minutes later sitting in a sweltering Africa-hot apartment, "ok, back to goddam hotel!"

Nothing, and I mean nothing, stinks quite like a dead anemone.

8/26/11 9:43 AM

Bought a new house in 03 and finished renovating it in 04 when we moved in just before the hurricanes. My wife thought I was demented when i had a whole house natural gas powered generator installed. Needless to say I went from schmuck to savant after spending a cumulative 30 days without power that year. The sound of the machine is musical when its equatorially hot and yet one has a/c, hot food and cold beer. With Wilma I was without power for 10 days straight. Bless that generator!

cubanbob said...

John Althouse Cohen said...

The smart thing to have done is to have taken an impromptu visit to Madison. Second smartest thing to do is get out of the city.

Trooper York said...

JAL said...
Lee Lee's Valise is supposed to be in a non nevacuations zone. But I bet Troop is still making plans to keep it safe.


Mayor Bloomberg is an idiot and is really just full of shit. This hurricaine is not going to hit the city. He is just being his usual condescending self trying to tell New Yorkers what to do because he knows best. He is a moron.

In Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill we are not far from the water but have never had serious flooding in the last 200 years. Staten Island is a differnt story.

The big problem in the neighborhood is hoarding. Not water and flash light batteries. All the little old ladies went to the stores and bought up all the fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. Basta!