Report From RIRA President Ellen Polivy - Roosevelt Island Hurricane Preparedness And New Evacuation Zone Locations
Click here for the new NYC Hurricane Evacuation Map.
Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Ellen Polivy sends the following Report To The Community:
Our new evacuation zones:
RIRA was pleased to join with City Councilmember Jessica Lappin and RIOC to bring you the presentation on August 27 by OEM about Roosevelt Island’s new evacuation zones. Public Safety Director John McManus joined two presenters from OEM for part of the presentation.
Roosevelt Island has now become two upgraded evacuation zones. Under certain circumstances we might be more likely to be asked to clear out in advance of an expected bad weather event.
If Hurricane Sandy were to happen under our new zones, our entire Island would have been advised to evacuate. The categories of hurricanes are not aligned to the evacuation zones categories. Storms are evaluated individually by projecting when and where they are likely to hit land. With that in mind, the Mayor decides with OEM’s advice , which areas to call for evacuation. Since we are now more likely to need to evacuate in advance of mega storms or hurricanes, we should take the longstanding advice to be prepared. Preparation starts with having a plan, creating a go-bag (and supplies to “shelter-in-place”) , knowing where to go, and how to get there.
The OEM presenters Christina Farrell and Roosevelt Island resident Rachel Sulaymanov gave useful information. They emphasized that we will be given ample warning to leave the Island in case an evacuation was called. We would be notified about 2-3 days in advance to give us ample opportunity to temporarily relocate to our families and friends who live outside of the evacuation zones, or to one of the recommended shelters.
Disabled people should call 311 to get transportation. OEM contracts with hundreds of companies to respond to any calls for assistance in evacuation. During Hurricane Sandy, they had hundreds of companies ready to help disabled people leave for shelters. But very few were actually used. The speakers emphasized the usefulness of that transportation system for disabled and other special needs like elderly, small children, pets etc.
Depending on the number of people being urged to evacuate, OEM might open additional shelters. They explained that hurricane related evacuations do not happen in the middle of stormy weather, but usually on a nice day two to three days beforehand. We are urged to notify our neighbors who might not have heard the news and to take care of each other. Their description of the shelters sounded a bit like going to camp for a few days. Families are kept together and you can go with your pet. Pets will be well cared for at the shelter in the pet area. People who don’t like pets are not forced to be with them.
You can find out lots of information online by searching for keywords such as “hurricane maps NYC”, “ReadyNYC”, "hurricane guide” or “evacuation centers” or “NYC go-bag”. Most of these searches will bring you to the huge database of information at the NYC OEM website.
Register at “Notify NYC” (nyc.gov/notifynyc) for free notifications about emergencies like severe weather, school closures and subway disruptions. You can have the messages sent by text message, email or Twitter.
Our closest shelters are two schools on either side of the East River. In Manhattan our shelter is Julia Richman School at 317 E 67 Street in Manhattan. The other is the Newcomers High School at 28-01 41 Avenue in Long Island City.
The Roosevelt Island Evacuation plan is under update by the RIOC Public Safety Director McManus and he sees "no reason" why it should not be made public after it is updated. This plan will inform us on how the island population would evacuate in a sudden need when there is not the usual two to three days of time or if the standard means of transportation do are not working or if the bridges are closed. We will keep in touch with Director McManus about this topic. We expect that there will be another community forum when the plans have been updated.
Why not just tough it out at home?
Hurricanes don’t just cause floods and wreckage and occasional loss of life. They sometimes cause temporary loss of basic services such as electricity, phones, gas and water and sewage, making homes unlivable. Those who try to live in their homes after evacuation orders are called put added stress on systems that need to be repaired. Leaving for a shelter gives the repair people time to restore the services without the extra load.
Those who decide to stay home after evacuation orders have been given risk more than just themselves. If the storm turns worse than expected, teams of first responders must then risk their lives trying to evacuate the stranded.
You can find the presentation online at