We know this can be a difficult and confusing time but you are not alone. You live in the most resilient city in the US. If you follow some simple guidelines you can aid yourself, your family and your neighborhood. You and your neighbors are the best emergency resource this city has to offer.
Make sure you hydrate yourself. Dehydration is one of the most common injuries during a disaster. If you where there is no water, check your ice-cubes, hot water heater, or purify a gallon of water with 3 drops of regular bleach (wait 30 seconds before drinking). Also make sure you eat and get rest (even if it is a nap).
Check on your neighbors.
Even if phone service is out, sometimes payphones still work. You can dial 0 to get an operator if you have no change.
If you evacuate leave a note inside the door in a clear waterproof container (like a jar) where you went and when and how to be reached. If you decide to go somewhere bring a flashlight, water, any medications you are taking, money and first aid kit.
In high winds it is safer to be indoors. If you must be out, go with someone else in case you are injured by falling debris. Walk in a single file line.
If you see downed wires stay away from them. If there is sparking, popping noises, or the smell of ozone (like after a lightening strike) stay out of any standing water. If you can get to the fuse box, throw the top breaker to turn off the main.
If your roof has been seriously damaged (for example a fallen tree) do not go up there because it could be very unsafe from collapsed electrical wires or more falling debris.
During high-winds stay away from glass windows and stay out of the street (where most debris blows).
If there is a flooding, do not try to drive through deep standing water.
If someone is unconscious but not breathing, tilt their head back lightly by putting your hand on their forehead. Look in their mouth for any object blocking their breathing. Pinch their nose and give three short breaths into their mouth. Take a deep breath yourself and continue.
If someone is bleeding a lot apply direct pressure with a bandage, shirt or towel directly on the wound. Hold for at least 60 seconds. Tie the bandage onto the wound putting a bow knot over the wound. Raise the wound, if possible, above the heart to reduce blood loss. If the bandage has been bled through, put another bandage on top of the old one (do NOT remove the bandage). If the bleeding continues put direct pressure back on top of the bandages and hold until bleeding stops.
If glass or any other object is protruding in a person, do NOT remove it. Put pressure around the wound and banadage it as best you can keeping the object from moving too much.
If a person may have a back injury do not move them.
If a person appears to be in shock (confused, cold and clammy, fixed pupils and/or very pale) lay them down. Elevate legs and arms and cover them.
If a pipe is broken, turn off the water main. The water main is a gray tear-drop shaped box located in the basement or ground floor on the wall closest to the street. Pull down the lowest lever towards the floor to turn off the main.
If you need to turn off the power go to the basement and look for a fuse box (a gun metal box on the wall). To turn off the main power flip all the switches starting from the top to the left. If there is a lever on the side, pull it down it will turn off all the power.
If you smell gas, leave your house immediately and leave the door open to avoid dangerous gas build up.
National Weather Service SW 162.4 to 162.5 AM 700
Office of Emergency Management AM 750 FM 89.8
Aftershock Community Rescue FM 88.9 SW 440MHz
For emergencies call 911. If you need help and phones are not working put a sign in a street facing window saying “Need 911”
Be careful of rumors and always try to verify with an outside source
You can do it. Connect with your neighbors and work together to provide for your building, block and/or neighborhood. Your best asset is your mind. If you are stressed take a few seconds and breath before doing anything.
What To Expect
A hurricane comes in 5 different types ranging in severity from the least severe to the most severe. Government agencies determine severity simply by measuring wind speed and tidal influence (not rain or lightening). Currently Irene will probably be a Level 1 when it hits NYC based on the official definition. Hurricanes are strange in that they can increase or decrease rapidly in strength. Katrina was expected to be a Level 2-3 and ended up being a level 5 within a few hours. There are some researchers that believe the level system is not an effective determination of the damage caused by hurricanes.
Here is the official definition of a category 1 from the National Weather Bureau:
CATEGORY 1 HURRICANE:
A tropical storm with winds of 39-73 mph becomes a hurricane when its winds near the center reach 74 mph. The storm surge is generally 4-5 feet above normal. Damage is mostly to trees and shrubbery, with no real building damage. Average wind speed for a cat. 1 is 74-95mph. Minimum central pressure (980 mb.)
What can we expect here in NYC.
The last major hurricane in NYC was in 1985 (Hurricane Gloria). It caused about 385 million dollars in damage in today's dollars. It was mostly high winds and only produced 3.4 inches of rain in the city. The tide was not too high--a little over 6 feet. It produced about 100 injuries and 2 deaths. Gloria was an easier ride because of the low tide, small amount of rain, and to its fast moving nature. We are expecting about 12-16 inches rain from Hurricane Irene. The sewers and water processing plants routinely shut down with 6 inches. We can expect interruptions in both water service and electricity. It could be until mid-morning Monday before any public transportation will be running including Access-A-Ride. Some bridges will be closed for certain periods of time, with late Saturday and Sunday morning being the most likely times. Hospitals will have limited capabilities but seem somewhat prepared to handle an increase of about 15% with no real delays. Flood Zone A has received the first mandatory Hurricane Evacuation in NYC history. The bridges to the Rockaways will be shut down. In evacuation zones one should not expect to receive city emergency services.