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August 26, 2011


Be prepared!

Hurricane Irene path

As the east coast prepares to get pounded by Hurricane Irene, I bet a lot of us in the Northeast are finding ourselves in the strange position of wondering what exactly we're supposed to do to prepare. Sure, we know how to drive in snow and that the best way to cope with a 100+ degree day is to go the movies, but we're not used to hurricanes. What if we actually get hit by hurricane-level wind and rain and really bad things start to happen?

It wasn't until this morning that I thought about the possibility of an evacuation of some parts of the city and greater region. I stood in the shower, listening to Bloomberg talk about possible evacuations on the radio, and realized that everywhere I thought of as a safe place to go in case of a bad storm was actually just further along the storm's likely path. Hmm. Where exactly would I go? Scranton?

I had an unsettling mental image of myself innocently wandering into Port Authority with a backpack and some vague notion of hopping on a Greyhound bus headed anywhere west, and being swept up in a chaotic horde of thousands of pissed off New Yorkers who don't have cars and all decided at around 6:30 on Saturday that the Lower East Side and Red Hook aren't the greatest places to be in a city where the streets flood on regular rainy days, fighting over standing space in the aisle of a Coach USA bus to Binghamton that's filled with screaming children and has an overflowing toilet in the back.

It's probably not going to happen that way. My guess is, it'll rain like hell and be windy and wild, the subways will flood and shut down, and maybe, worst case scenario, we'll lose power for a day or two.

So I'm preparing by ensuring I have plenty of the following things: clean underwear and cash. And some beer in the fridge.

In a piece on NPR this morning about how the big box stores are stocking up on essential items, I heard that the rest of America has a similarly cavalier attitude to their post-storm preparations. What's the single item that most people rush to Walmart to buy for a major storm? Batteries? Drinking water? Generators? Nope. Strawberry Pop-Tarts. That's true American grit.

Nate Silver calculates that, even if a Category 1 storm hits land 50 miles from Manhattan, the damage will be in the multi-billions of dollars, and if it's a direct hit, tens of billions. A weak Category 2 storm hitting Manhattan would cause damage worth half of the city's annual budget.

Gothamist has a map of the city's evacuation zones (the link to the city's map is reeeally slow today.) Don't go to the beach, and stay safe, everyone.

categories: Culture, Economics, NYC
posted by amy at 10:36 AM | #

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