Archive for the tag 'emergencies'

Source: nasa.gov

Superstorm Sandy as seen from outer space. (Source: nasa.gov)

The New York City Council passed new building code laws last week in an effort to make structures more resilient should another natural catastrophe like Superstorm Sandy strike again.

The New York Times laid out the details of the new building code laws in their report:

One change requires residential buildings five stories or higher to add faucets in common areas like laundry rooms so that residents on higher floors have some access to water for drinking, flushing toilets and other uses. Upper floors lose water when electric pumps stop working during blackouts, a problem that worsened conditions and forced many people out of their buildings after the hurricane.

The requirement applies immediately to new residential construction, while existing buildings have eight years to add the fixtures…

Another piece of legislation requires new and existing hospitals and nursing homes in flood zones to install hookups that would enable quick connection to temporary generators and boilers so that such facilities can maintain electricity and heating when the power is out. The law requiring the hookups is effective immediately for new buildings, but gives existing buildings 20 years to comply.

Another new law makes it easier to install backup generators and generators that run on natural gas, which is considered a cleaner and more reliable source of power than diesel fuel. And a fourth law allows temporary flood barriers on sidewalks.

Russell Unger, who chaired the task force charged with providing the Council with recommendations, spoke to the overall singular goal of the new laws.

“It will make it much more possible to stay in a large building for an extended period without power,” Unger told the Times.

Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons

State Senator Diane Savino (Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons)

A pair of New York State politicians are trying to make it easier for emergency personal to rescue disabled residents should another disaster like Superstorm Sandy strike in again the future. SI Live is reporting that State Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Michael Cusick are introducing legislation that would require counties to create and maintain a confidential list of disabled citizens so rescue workers could prioritize their rescue in the event of a wide scale emergency.

As we reported earlier in the month, a federal judge ruled that the city had no adequate plan for evacuating the elderly and disabled should another disaster like Sandy strike again. The legislation proposed by Savino and Cusick was in response to this ruling.

“Judge Furman’s ruling holds out what we and those in the disabled community have said, that the city and state need a registry and a plan for the evacuation, shelter and rescue of our disabled neighbors,” Savino said.

Cusick agreed with Savino in calling for action, noting the consequences of inadequate preparedness.

“Individuals with disabilities who may require evacuation assistance and shelter during a disaster will only get the assistance they require if there is some sort of registry,” Cusick said. “We saw first hand the chaos and confusion during Superstorm Sandy with regard to evacuation procedures.”

While Cusick’s bill has passed in the Assembly, it has not yet passed in the Senate. SI Live also noted that the legislation would also force operators of high-rise apartment buildings to update their own emergency plans and provide emergency escape plans for their disabled residents.

Source: Mephell/Deviantart.com

According to a report by YouGov.com, a research and consulting organization, 64 percent of Americans are woefully unprepared for a major natural disaster, even after the events of Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and a series of other major natural disasters smacking us around in recent years.

The report finds that people making disaster-readiness plans has slightly increased from 31 percent to 36 percent since 2011, showing that the majority of Americans have failed to adequately prepare themselves in the event of another major disaster. This is the breakdown of YouGov’s numbers,

Of the 36 percent who said they were equipped for natural disasters, their preparations included the following:

  • Emergency supplies (for example, flashlights or first-aid kits): 89 percent
  • Food stocks: 74 percent
  • Creating an evacuation or an emergency plan: 50 percent
  • Disaster insurance: 22 percent

Of the 89 percent who had emergency supplies, their supplies included the following:

  • Flashlights:  97 percent
  • Water:  92 percent
  • First-aid kits or medicine:  92 percent
  • Sleeping bags or blankets:  83 percent
  • Face masks: 18 percent
  • Iodine pills:  15 percent

While general preparedness is low, concern and fear over another natural disaster has increased, especially across the Northeast, where 31 percent report that they are “very concerned” following Hurricane Sand, doubled from the previous year’s report of 17 percent concern in polling done after Tropical Storm Irene, the highest percentage in the country.

A lot of people have prognosticated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that this was finally the storm that got everyone’s attention, and that in the future, people will be more prepared for the advent of another natural catastrophe. I’m not so sure. While Sandy’s devastation was massive and destabilizing, only time will tell how New Yorkers will prepare and respond, both personally, and politically, should another superstorm come to wreck our city.

New York City and Con Edison has set up a number of distribution locations throughout the five boroughs, where they are giving out emergency supplies including dry ice, food and water. Here are the current locations:

Location Borough Friday Time
Coffey Park at Richards Street Brooklyn Opens at 1PM
West 25th Street and Surf Avenue Brooklyn Opens at 1PM
Mill Road and New Dorp Lane Staten Island Opens at 1PM
Yetman Avenue and Hylan Blvd Staten Island Opens at 1PM
Beach 51st Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard Queens Opens at 1PM
Red Fern Avenue and Beach 12th Street Queens Opens at 1PM
Beach 84th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard Queens Opens at 1PM
Vernon Boulevard and 30th Road Queens Opens at 1PM
West 27th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues Manhattan Opens at 1PM
East 10th Street between Avenues C & D Manhattan Opens at 1PM
Catherine Street between Cherry and Monroe Streets Manhattan Opens at 1PM
Pitt Street and East Houston Street Manhattan Opens at 1PM
Central Plaza at Division Street Manhattan Opens at 1PM
Stanton and Pitt Streets Manhattan Opens at 1PM

These locations will be updated, and the most up-to-date list can be found here.

Skipper, The Professor, Gilligan, and Thurson Howell III. Source: Fanpop

I always thought that, if the S.S. Minnow’s shipwrecked crew had a ham radio during their three hour tour, instead of a dinky transistor, maybe Maynard G. Krebs and his pals would have eventually gotten off of that headhunter- and witch doctor-infested tropical isle in the middle of nowhere.

An impressive collection of antique ham radios. Source: Marcin Wichary / Flickr. Click to enlarge

My naïveté aside, it will be a radio frequency geek’s paradise when ham radio enthusiasts gather en masse at Floyd Bennett Field  this weekend for Field Day, the culmination of Amateur Radio Week, featuring public demonstrations of emergency communications devices, sponsored by the national association for Amateur Radio (ARRL). The Kings County Radio Club will be demonstrating from 12:00 p.m., June 23, to 4:00 p.m., June 24 in Floyd Bennett’s Building 272. Last year, more than 35,000 hams (that’s really what they call themselves) participated in Field Day.

Priding themselves on resourcefulness and techy know-how, ham operators construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools, and backyards around the country… using only emergency power supplies.

From their press release:

Despite the internet, cell phones, email, and modern communications, every year entire regions find themselves cut off from the rest of the world. Tornadoes, fires, storms, emergencies, and other disasters can leave people without the means to communicate. In these cases, the one service that has never failed has been Amateur Radio. These radio operators, often called “hams” provide backup communications for everything from the American Red Cross to FEMA. This weekend, the Kings County Radio Club will be joining thousands of other Amateur Radio operators showing their emergency capabilities.

According to Allen Pitts of the ARRL, “The fastest way to turn a crisis into a total disaster is to lose communication. From the earthquake in Japan to tornadoes in Missouri, ham radio provide[s] the most reliable communication networks in the first critical hours of the events. Ham radios work when there is nothing else available.”

The public is invited to attend to see ham’s new capabilities as well as to learn how to get their own FCC license before the next disaster strikes (which, hopefully it won’t, but it’s always best to be prepared).

According to the Kings County Radio Club, there are now more than 700,000 Amateur Radio licensees in the United States and more than 2.5 million worldwide. To learn more about Amateur Radio, go to www.emergency-radio.org.

Residents of Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach and sections of Sheepshead Bay – as well as others living in Evacuation Zone A – are being ordered by city officials to evacuate to safer grounds as Hurricane Irene approaches.

Along the southern tip of Brooklyn, Zone A includes all of Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach and Coney Island, as well as all residences between Emmons Avenue and Shore Parkway. The entire waterfront commercial district of Sheepshead Bay – including all businesses and residences between Ocean Parkway and Ocean Avenue from the water to Avenue X are also in Zone A.

Residents must be out of the area by 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, the city said. Additionally, the entire city’s mass transit system – including buses, subways, ferries and light rail – will shut down at noon on Saturday.

Penalties for failing to evacuate could include fines or prison time, though it’s expected the city would only levy such punishments in severe cases.

Mayor Bloomberg ordered the evacuation during a press conference this afternoon, a step that he said has never been done in the city’s history. Approximately 250,000 people – in areas including the financial district of Manhattan, all of the Rockaways and huge swaths of Staten Island in additional to local Brooklyn coastal communities – are being required to evacuate.

The city’s 91 evacuation centers will open at 4 p.m. today, allowing residents and their pets a place of refuge. You can find a list of evacuation centers here.

Need to know if you’re in Zone A? Here’s an interactive map from WNYC: