The city’s Office of Emergency Management last month published updated hurricane evacuation zones.
And while adjustments are slight from ones prepared in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, OEM has been spending the last few weeks getting the message out about the new maps, and precautions Queens residents should exercise before a storm hits.
Clive Dawkins, a liaison to Community Board’s 12 and 13 from the OEM’s Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, made brief but direct presentations before both last month.
“You can’t plan when a storm is happening,” Dawkins said.
Know Your Zone is the name of the campaign that includes a heavy advertising blitz and visits such as the ones Dawkins has made by city emergency personnel.
The new maps still have six zones, ranging from Zone 1, in red, for places like the Rockaways that were devastated by Sandy, to Zone 6, in green, for places that are farther inland.
Residents in Zone 1 are considered the most likely to be ordered to evacuate in the event of a hurricane such as Sandy, or the one that Hurricane Irene was forecast to be the year before.
Irene, in August 2011, resulted in former Mayor Mike Bloomberg issuing the first-ever mandatory evacuation order in city history.
Other Zone 1 areas in Queens include LaGuardia Airport and portions of the Grand Central Parkway corridor; Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach; Rosedale; the Alley Pond Park basin; and coastal portions of Hunters Point and Long Island City.
Dawkins said changes were made based on continuous studies of weather, geographic and oceanic and atmospheric conditions.
OEM continues to stress that nothing is more important to residents than planning ahead of time what they will do and must have ready in the event they must shelter in place or are forced to evacuate.
OEM recommends that a “go-bag” includes important documents in waterproof containers; extra sets of car and house keys; credit/debit cards and cash; essential medications; child and pet care items; and contact information for relatives and doctors.
Those who must leave their homes are encouraged to try and stay with friends or relatives outside of the flooding zones.
Evacuation centers in Queens include John Adams High School in Ozone Park; Aviation High School in Long Island City; Bayside High School; Flushing High School; Forest Hills High School; Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood; Hillcrest High School in Jamaica Hills; Newcomers High School in Long Island City; Newtown High School; PS 19 in Corona; Townsend Harris High School in Flushing; Queensborough Community College in Bayside; William Cullen Bryant High School in Long Island City; and PS 268 in Jamaica.
Belmont Park, just over the Nassau County line, also is a designated facility.
All evacuation centers accept pets if they cannot be left with someone outside of the evacuation zones.
Emergency supplies for those sheltering in place should account for loss of power and water service, and include a gallon of water per person per day; canned food and a manual can opener; a flashlight, battery-operated radio and extra batteries; and iodine tablets of unscented bleach for disinfecting water.