New York City's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) responds to crises of all kinds. New Yorkers see this firsthand whenever we confront a major storm, a power outage, or a water main break. This biennial report highlights OEM's comprehensive efforts to prepare for and respond to these and other emergencies.
Throughout the year, OEM coordinates our local government's work to inform the public how we can take practical steps to increase our preparedness, including registering for Notify NYC, the City's free, real-time emergency alert system. In 2012, when Hurricane Sandy tested us as no storm ever has before, OEM had a plan in place. Well before Sandy reached our area, we activated the OEM Situation Room and our Coastal Storm Plan. From that point forward, OEM staff worked around the clock to help New Yorkers protect themselves and their property — and to assist those who were devastated by the storm.
OEM will continue to play a vital role in the City's efforts to rebuild our communities and prepare for future extreme weather, both along our coastline and in all our neighborhoods. Together, we will continue to help protect our City — and one another — whenever a crisis strikes.
Michael R. Bloomberg
Photo Credit: Spencer T. Tucker
Dear New Yorkers,
I am happy to present the 2012/2013 NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Biennial Report, which showcases the agency's work to further its mission of planning for and responding to emergencies, information sharing, and educating New Yorkers about personal preparedness.
The past two years have been busy. The most challenging emergency to date, Hurricane Sandy, was unlike any the City had faced in recent history. Before and after the storm, the City's Emergency Operations Center (EOC), located at OEM headquarters, was home to staff from a host of City, state, and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private sector and regional partners. Additionally, the EOC directed the massive flow of resources to all affected areas. Our Logistics unit managed an unprecedented volume of resource requests to support storm recovery. This was a response and recovery effort like none I have ever seen before.
Over the past two years, OEM has achieved many milestones. In 2013, we marked the 10th anniversary of the Ready New York, Citizen Corps Council, and Community Emergency Response Teams programs. Last summer, we revised our hurricane preparedness guide to include expanded hurricane evacuation zones.
OEM responders were at the scenes of 500 more incidents than in the 2010-2011 period, while Watch Command monitored an additional 2,500 incidents. OEM also organized exercises to improve coordination among response agencies, including a full-scale exercise in Coney Island in November 2013 that simulated a response to a radiological dispersal device.
I am proud of the accomplishments of OEM and its people. The past two years have been challenging, but the crises we have faced have led us to improve and develop plans and programs that ensure even greater resiliency for our city. I hope you enjoy the report and commit to preparing yourself and your loved ones for emergencies.
Joseph F. Bruno
In 2013, the NY-NJ-CT-PA Regional Catastrophic Planning Team — managed by OEM — created "The Essential Emergency Manager" video, a simple, graphic explanation about what emergency managers do during a disaster.
Following Hurricane Irene in late August 2011, OEM coordinated the Hurricane Irene After-Action Report. The report evaluated the City's response to Irene, documented what the City did well, and identified areas for improvement. OEM coordinated a range of improvements with partner agencies based on the report's 68 recommendations. These include: a bridge and tunnel closure protocol, procedures for coordinating transportation during healthcare facility evacuations, a strategy for sheltering in place at healthcare facilities, improved training for shelter staff and volunteers, and a social media emergency protocol.
Photo Credit: Edward Reed
Bridge & Tunnel Closure Protocol
Developed in the wake of Hurricane Irene, the regional Bridge & Tunnel Closure Protocol coordinates closures of New York City area bridges and tunnels during impending severe weather. Led by OEM and TRANSCOM, a regional transportation agency coalition, the protocol proved crucial for closing bridges and tunnels during Hurricane Sandy. In the days before landfall, agencies used the protocol to guide decisions regarding closure timing and tactics, and to coordinate emergency alerts and messaging on highway signage around the region.
Healthcare Facility Evacuation Center Manual
After Hurricane Irene, OEM, City and State Health Departments, Fire Department, Health and Hospitals Corporation, Greater New York Hospital Association, the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York State, and other partner agencies revised the Healthcare Facility Evacuation Center (HEC) Manual to include procedures for coordinating transportation (i.e., ambulances, paratransit vehicles, buses, and sedans) during healthcare facility evacuations, a shelter-in-place strategy to determine if facilities can sustain patients without evacuating, and improved staffing plans.
Transit Strike Contingency Plan
Updated in 2012, the Transit Strike Contingency Plan includes strategies to manage traffic that may be used in any disruption of mass transit. Examples of these strategies include high-occupancy vehicle restrictions, lane reversals, park and ride options, amended taxi and limousine regulations, and the suspension of roadway construction.
Area Evacuation Plan
In February 2013, OEM updated the New York City Area Evacuation Plan (AEP). The AEP coordinates evacuations resulting from no-notice events, including natural hazards, infrastructure incidents, and man-made events. The plan clarifies roles and responsibilities of City and state agencies in support of Police Department operations. The AEP is designed to be scalable and can be used for a single-neighborhood or large-scale evacuation. The revised plan includes strategies for improved coordination of roadways, public transportation, special needs, and public information, while allowing flexibility to respond to various hazards and incidents of all sizes.
Photo Credit: Department of Transportation
Mission Request Protocol
Developed in 2012, the Mission Request Protocol (MRP) offers strategic and operational guidance for the submission and receipt of requests for resources from New York State or neighboring counties. The MRP explains the resource request process and presents a broad catalog of pre-scripted mission requests for specific capabilities to save time during an actual event.
Logistics Center Manual, Forms, Toolkit, & Truck Routing Protocol
The Logistics Center (LC) Manual and LC Forms & Toolkit contain procedures and tools to help Logistics Center staff — comprising representatives from various City and other partner agencies — process and fulfill citywide resource requests to support response and recovery activities. Following lessons learned from Sandy, the LC Manual was expanded to include the LC Emergency Truck Routing Protocol, which guides LC staff through critical considerations and procedures for safely routing freight carriers within the City.
Logistics Staging Area Plan
A Logistics Staging Area (LSA) is a way-station to receive, assess, stage, track, and distribute shipments of critical resources during and after an emergency. A licensing agreement is in place with Citi Field to use parking areas as the Citywide LSA. Alternate sites (such as Fort Hamilton) have been identified to ensure the City has this vital logistical capability when needed. The LSA plan includes an LSA manual, site information packages, field operations guide, and a suite of online and video training materials.
Logistics Shelter Support Program
The Logistics Shelter Support Program (LSSP) is a comprehensive suite of resources essential to the staffing and operation of the New York City shelter system. The LSSP includes the Emergency Supply Stockpile, a variety of food service programs and contracts that provide hot meals to shelter residents, and support items for special medical needs shelters, among other supplies.
Commodity Distribution Point Plan
A Commodity Distribution Point (CDP) is a temporary site where life-sustaining commodities, including emergency meals and water, are distributed each day during an emergency. Other commodities, such as cleanup kits and tarps, can also be distributed using the CDP model. Sites in each of the city's 59 community districts have been surveyed in cooperation with the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Police Department to create detailed plans for staffing, security, oversight, layout, and operation of each CDP site. Online and video training materials for CDP operations and management and the CDP Field Operations Guide were finalized in August 2013. A training plan for CDP staff was also implemented in August 2013 for more than 150 Community Emergency Response Teams, Medical Reserve Corps, and NYC Service volunteers.
Post-Hurricane Sandy Playbooks
Following Hurricane Sandy, new playbooks were developed to better coordinate the City's response during emergencies. These playbooks — including improvements in managing traffic, volunteers and donations, emergency fueling, generator deployment, and dewatering and fuel operations — are based on recommendations that outline how the City's response capacity and performance can be strengthened in the future.
The Incident Explosive Device (IED) Response Playbook is a guide to coordinating the response to an IED attack beyond the immediate life safety, site management, and investigative tasks. The playbook outlines the various supporting operations that would need to be activated simultaneously in the minutes and hours following an IED attack. These include: support to hospitals seeing a surge in patients, Family Assistance Centers and Disaster Assistance Service Centers to serve to those affected by the disaster, damage assessments of infrastructure in affected areas, and planning for the eventual re-opening of the incident site to the public.
Photo Credit: NASA
OEM's Training & Exercises division has enhanced the way agency personnel understand and respond to emergencies through several key initiatives:
Introduced in September 2012, OEM Academy trains OEM personnel and agency partners in emergency management skills, protocols, and procedures, Emergency Operations Center activities, and the after-action/improvement plan process.
Launched in 2012, the Emergency Management Certificate Program introduces City employees, and some partners, to emergency management fundamentals and helps them gain a better understanding of how NYC operates and responds to emergencies. Through a series of courses, participants gain a solid foundation in emergency management principles and how they are applied in New York City. Participants conclude the program with a tabletop exercise.
Introduced in 2008, OEM's Advanced Disaster Management Simulator is a virtual reality system that walks users through emergencies and their surrounding environments. The program has been expanded to allow first responders and City agency personnel to practice managing large-scale emergencies in real-world settings without incurring signficant costs or imposing disruptions on the public.
On June 27, 2012, Deputy Mayor for Operations Caswell Holloway and OEM hosted an executive-level tabletop exercise, Eyeing the Storm, to help prepare agency heads for the 2012 hurricane season and review recommendations made in the Hurricane Irene After-Action Report. The exercise challenged participants to make decisions regarding storm preparation, evacuation, school closures, sheltering, and post-storm operations such as damage assessment. Eyeing the Storm attendees included City and partner agencies, the National Weather Service, and Menlo, OEM's third-party logistics provider responsible for the deployment of the Emergency Supply Stockpile to shelters.
On April 20, 2013, members of New York Task Force 1 (NY-TF 1), New York City's Urban Search and Rescue team, conducted a canine training and certification exercise on Staten Island. Canine search teams practiced search and rescue techniques on man-made rubble piles. Community Emergency Response Team members were placed into confined-space "hides" for rescue dogs to find. The National Urban Search and Rescue Response System has 28 advanced search and rescue task forces strategically located throughout the United States. Coordinated and overseen by FEMA, NY-TF 1 is managed by OEM, and includes approximately 210 specially trained and certified members from the New York City Police and Fire Departments.
OEM conducted a Command Post Exercise series in coordination with the NYC Police and Fire Departments to reinforce the need for unified incident command and unified operations sections in compliance with the Citywide Incident Management System. Exercises were held in every borough between July 2011 and June 2012 with each Fire division and Police patrol borough to improve communications and interagency decision-making. OEM also worked with the Fire Department and the U.S. Marine Corps during several interagency disaster drills to hone disaster response skills, increase interoperability, and maintain crucial relationships among New York City response organizations.
In November 2013, OEM hosted a multiagency drill in the vicinity of MCU Park in Coney Island. The exercise was a culmination of a series of workshops and tabletop exercises simulating the coordinated response by multiple City agencies to a radiological dispersal device incident. The NYC Fire Department, Police Department, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Department of Environmental Protection were among the participating agencies, while Community Emergency Response Team volunteers contributed to the drill by playing victims.
As a follow-up to the What If New York City... Design Competition for Post-Disaster Provisional Housing, OEM and the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) are developing a way to supply post-disaster housing that meets the needs of dense urban areas like New York City through the Urban Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Program. This program offers a new plan for interim housing that provides more suitable living spaces for New Yorkers displaced by disaster than conventional interim housing solutions used in other parts of the country. OEM and DDC, with support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, and the Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program, are building and testing a quickly deployable, three-story, multifamily prototype on a site next to OEM's headquarters. The prototype will be occupied and studied through 2014.
OEM continues to chair the Big City Emergency Managers' group, which includes emergency managers from the country's 15 largest cities, as well as representatives from FEMA. Sponsored by Target, Sprint, and ESRI, this group meets semi-annually to discuss issues affecting emergency management. Recent discussions have focused on after-action reviews of Hurricane Sandy, the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard shooting, the July 2013 Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash landing in San Francisco, and the Urban Post-Disaster Housing Prototype. Emergency managers and FEMA representatives also discuss policy issues around grant funding, post-disaster public assistance funding, and the professionalization of the emergency management discipline.
Photo Credit: Elijah Crawford
Hazard mitigation planning is the first of the four phases of emergency management, followed by preparedness, response, and recovery. Since a number of hazards pose a threat to New York City, hazard mitigation is essential to breaking the typical disaster cycle. In 2009, OEM released the NYC Hazard Mitigation Plan, a FEMA-approved guideline for protecting New York City from the effects of natural hazards. In 2012, work began on the City's plan update, which will be released in 2014. As part of this process, OEM, in partnership with the NYC Department of City Planning, convened 40 City agencies to assess the city's risk from both natural and non-natural hazards and address how these threats may affect the future environment. The plan was published for public review in December 2013.
National Preparedness Month — a month-long, nationwide campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to promote emergency preparedness and encourage volunteerism — celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013. Commissioner Bruno joined FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to kick off National Preparedness Month 2013 at Staten Island Children's Museum. More than 1,000 children attended the event, and more than 175 volunteers distributed literature and talked to New Yorkers about emergency preparedness at sites throughout all five boroughs.
In recognition of the efforts of volunteers before, during, and after Hurricane Sandy, the NYC Citizen Corps Council held its Seventh Annual Disaster Volunteer Conference, It Takes A City, in May 2013. In 2012, the sixth annual conference focused on volunteers creating change. In November 2013, the Citizen Corps Council released an English-as-a-Second-Language emergency preparedness video with the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA). OEM and MOIA introduced "The Storm," the 10th episode of the "We Are New York" TV series for English language-learners, which focuses on preparing for an emergency. The Council also coordinates National Preparedness Month activities each September with disaster relief and other volunteer organizations. In 2012, Herman Schaffer, OEM staffer and NYC Citizen Corps Council chair, was honored as a White House Champion of Change for his commitment and contributions to disaster preparedness.
Ten years after its inception, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program continues to grow. CERT volunteers numbered more than 1,500 in 2013, and interest in CERT training surged following Hurricane Sandy. To meet the demand, CERT held the first-ever summer cycle in 2013. Additionally, the annual John D. Solomon Emergency Preparedness Award was presented to CERT Team Chiefs Kim Teixeira and Ramona Ponce in 2012 and 2013, respectively. In 2013, OEM introduced the CERT Excellence in Deployment and Emergency Response Award to recognize a team that has shown a strong history of deploying for planned and unplanned events and outstanding emergency response. Staten Island Port Richmond CERT was honored as the award's first recipient.
Since its inception in 2011, Partners in Preparedness — a program that helps organizations prepare their employees, services, and facilities for disasters — has engaged more than 220 NYC-based partners, representing more than 500,000 employees. More than 120 have completed the steps to become an official OEM Partner in Preparedness. This innovative program was awarded the 2012 FEMA Promising Partnership award and recognized by the CDC Foundation for embodying FEMA's Whole Community approach to emergency management, and received two grants to further its reach. Additionally, OEM staffer Ira Tannenbaum was recognized as a 2013 White House Champion of Change for his role in coordinating the Partners in Preparedness program. The 2013 Partners in Preparedness Award was presented to the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, The Salvation Army, and the New York Stock Exchange (pictured).
In 2012, the John D. Solomon Fellowship for Public Service was established by the family and friends of the late John D. Solomon, an accomplished journalist and NYC Community Emergency Response Team volunteer who tirelessly promoted emergency preparedness. Sponsored by OEM, it is the first student fellowship in New York City government devoted specifically to emergency management. The inaugural class included fellows and mentors from City agencies including OEM, the Department of the Aging, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYC Digital, and NYC Service. In 2013, the fellowship added a second position at OEM as well as a fellow at the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development.
In 2013, OEM updated the NYC Readiness Challenge, an interactive tool that highlights what could happen in the event of an emergency in New York City and outlines steps users can take to prepare for a disaster. The Challenge takes users through six floors of a NYC apartment building, where they meet New Yorkers with a specific problem and are asked to help them get to safety. While assisting the characters, users learn about staying informed during an emergency, contacting loved ones who may be concerned, gathering emergency supplies ahead of a disaster, preparing pets for emergencies, and helping family members and friends with special needs.
Since 2011, Ready New York's suite of guides has been refreshed to include a variety of new resources. Noteworthy updates include the 2013 Ready New York: Hurricanes and New York City guide, which reflects the city's new hurricane evacuation zones, and Ready New York: My Pet's Emergency Plan, a companion guide to Ready New York: My Emergency Plan.
Each year, the Ready New York program honors a school and a senior center for their commitment to preparedness. In 2012, PS 23 in the Bronx earned the Ready School of the Year Award, while the Fort Greene Grant Square Senior Center in Brooklyn earned the inaugural Senior Center of the Year Award. In 2013, PS 151 in Brooklyn and Catholic Charities Bayside Senior Center in Queens, were honored as the Ready School of the Year Award and Senior Center of the Year Award, respectively.
In an effort to reach more New Yorkers, OEM continued its partnership with the Ad Council with new print and radio public service announcements (PSAs). The new PSAs, created by Deutsch in 2013 and produced in partnership with FEMA, emphasize the importance of getting children involved in the preparedness process. To date, OEM's preparedness ad campaign has received over $23.6 million in donated media.
After Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, OEM strongly focused its outreach efforts on residents in hurricane evacuation zones. In addition to Ready New York presentations, communities most at riskreceived hurricane guides through library branches, elementary schools, community boards, Police Precinct Community Councils, GrowNYC green markets, swimming pools, and Borough Presidents' meetings. In Sandy's wake, OEM gave more than 400 presentations in hurricane evacuation zones and mailed 1.4 million hurricane guides to New York City residents and businesses in all the city's hurricane evacuation zones.
In a city as large and complex as New York City, emergencies can happen every day. Between January 2012 through November 2013, OEM's Citywide Interagency Coordinators responded to 1,332 emergencies while Watch Command monitored 5,374 incidents in the five boroughs.
Staten Island Fresh Kills Brush Fire
Dry conditions, low humidity, and gusty winds contributed to a five-alarm brush fire on the Fresh Kills Landfill property in Staten Island on April 9, 2012. Watch Command provided regular updates on the weather, supported interagency communications, and issued Notify NYC messages to inform the public. OEM Citywide Interagency Coordinators facilitated interagency meetings and supported requests for heavy equipment from other City agencies for fire suppression operations.
Crane Hitting Brooklyn Bridge
On March 13, 2012, OEM responded to the East River, where a crane barge had struck the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge. The collision affected both the Brooklyn Bridge and one of the East River channels that is regularly used by marine vessels. OEM coordinated operations between the Fire, Police and Transportation Departments, the U.S. Coast Guard, and several private contractors, and alerted the public about the bridge shutdown.
Bronx Fire Escapes
On June 2, 2012, the Fire Department requested OEM assistance at 2400 Webb Ave. in the Bronx, where all fire escapes had been removed. Due to this and other life safety violations, the Fire and Buildings Departments ordered the 75-unit building's 200 residents to vacate. OEM dispatched the American Red Cross, Metropolitan Transit Authority buses, and Police resources to the scene. OEM Citywide Interagency Coordinators worked with the building owner and other City agencies to keep residents informed and ensure their needs were met.
Breezy Point/Canarsie Tornadoes/Water Spout
On September 8, 2012, the National Weather Service (NWS) determined that a tornado/water spout developed off the coast of Breezy Point, Queens, and then redeveloped and touched down in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn. OEM distributed NWS-issued tornado warnings through Notify NYC directing people to take shelter immediately and deployed Citywide Interagency Coordinators (CICs) to the scene. CICs responded to both Breezy Point and Canarsie to assess damage, conduct interagency meetings, and assist people affected by the storm.
Brooklyn Residential Fire
On July 26, 2012, a seven-alarm fire at 665 New York Ave. in Brooklyn brought hundreds of firefighters and scores of other emergency personnel to the 117-unit building. Due to extensive damage, the entire building was vacated and hundreds of residents were displaced. OEM facilitated interagency meetings, worked with the Department of Education to open a reception center, organized tenant meetings in cooperation with building management, and ensured residents were able to retrieve their belongings when it was safe to do so.
Photo Credit: National Weather Service
Seastreak Ferry Accident
On January 9, 2013, more than 50 people were injured, some seriously, when the Seastreak Ferry made a hard landing into Pier 11 in Manhattan. OEM Citywide Interagency Coordinators were immediately dispatched to the scene to assist the City with information gathering and coordination. OEM ensured that all City, state, and federal agencies sent appropriate resources and supported other interagency requests throughout the incident.
Train Derailments (Penn Station, Harlem 1 Train, Garbage Train)
In summer 2013, OEM responded to three separate train derailments in different parts of the city: an elevated subway had a minor derailment and needed to be evacuated in Harlem on May 29; a commuter railroad derailed in Penn Station on June 17 resulting in hundreds of people being evacuated and causing major service disruptions; and a freight train hauling refuse derailed near the Bronx-Manhattan border on July 18. In each case, OEM informed the public of service disruptions and alternate transportation options, kept partner agencies informed through situation summaries, and deployed CICs to the scene. OEM CICs worked with responding agencies to care for passengers, troubleshoot interagency issues, and ensure service was restored in a timely fashion.
Helicopter Emergency Landing on Upper West Side
OEM responded to the 79th Street Boat Basin in the early afternoon of June 30, 2013. A small helicopter on a sightseeing tour made an emergency landing into the water with five passengers on board. Civilians on jet skis in the area rescued the passengers from the water and the Fire and Police Departments responded to secure the scene and evaluate the passengers. OEM coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other City agencies to remove the aircraft from the water and re-open the boat basin.
LaGuardia Southwest 345 Incident
On July 22, 2013, Southwest Airlines flight 345's nose gear collapsed upon landing and the aircraft skidded down the runway at LaGuardia Airport. As a result, nearly 150 passengers and crew needed to evacuate the aircraft. Air traffic in and out of LaGuardia was suspended. OEM dispatched Citywide Interagency Coordinators to the airport, established communications with the Federal Aviation Administration, and pushed out up-to-the-minute information to City agencies. OEM worked closely with the Port Authority to ensure they had the resources to respond to the incident.
Astro Tower at Coney Island's Luna Park
On July 2, 2013, OEM responded to Coney Island's Luna Park, where the Astro Tower — a 280-foot tall amusement attraction — was swaying and potentially in danger of collapse. OEM, working closely with park owners and other City agencies, including the Buildings, Fire, and Police Departments and the Economic Development Corporation, facilitated an orderly evacuation and closure of the park, delivered light towers to support nighttime operations, and deployed the Citywide Incident Management Command Center to serve as a command post. While engineers conducted their assessment, Watch Command kept the public informed of park and road closures through Notify NYC. A decision was made on July 3 to remove the tower completely. OEM facilitated the delivery of additional light towers and escorts for two heavy-duty cranes, and organized press conferences. Just over 24 hours later, the iconic tower stood no more, and the park was reopened in time for Luna Park's busiest day of the season, July 4.
Metro-North Train Derailment
On the morning of Sunday, December 1, 2013, a seven-car Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Metro-North passenger train headed for Grand Central Station derailed on a curved section of track just outside of the Spuyton Duyvil station in the Bronx. Four people on board were killed and more than 60 were injured. OEM coordinated operations with the Police, Fire and EMS Departments, MTA Metro-North Railroad, MTA Police Department, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, and the National Transportation Safety Board. Members of OEM's Human Services department helped set up a reception center at JFK High School to help families reunite with loved ones, while Watch Command disseminated Notify NYC messages with details about Metro-North Hudson Line service suspension and alternate routes for commuters.
Photo Credit: Jodie Colon
In an effort to maintain its robust operation, OEM's Watch Command expanded in size in 2013. The expansion included extra work stations for staffers and managers to continue monitoring incidents throughout the city 24 hours a day, seven days a week. OEM's back-up facility also received a facelift in 2013.
Launched in 2013, the Major Emergency Transportation Unit (METU) program enables City responders to triage, transport, and evacuate a large number of casualties or patients. The METU program is a collaborative effort of the New York City and Newark/Jersey City Urban Area Security Initiative jurisdictions.
In June 2013, OEM announced that Hurricane Evacuation Zones 1 through 6 would replace Zones A, B, and C. The new zones include an additional 600,000 New Yorkers not included within the boundaries of the former zones. The new zone system — first announced in the City's Hurricane Sandy After-Action Report — was developed using the latest Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model generated by the National Weather Service and storm surge inundation maps processed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The zones are based on coastal flood risk resulting from storm surge — the "dome" of ocean water propelled by the winds and low barometric pressure of a hurricane; the geography of the city's low-lying neighborhoods; and the accessibility of these neighborhoods by bridge and roads.
OEM's GIS unit, which played a key part in developing the new hurricane evacuation zones, and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications were instrumental in launching the revamped Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder in 2013. The mobile device-friendly Finder helps residents determine whether they live in a hurricane evacuation zone using GPS location or an inputted address. Based on the user's location, the Finder determines the nearest hurricane evacuation center and provides directions to that center. The Finder also indicates whether an evacuation order is in effect and which zones should evacuate.
COOP, which works to ensure all City agencies can continue to provide essential public services in the event of an emergency, expanded in 2013 to include 44 agencies. In 2012, COOP proved successful during Hurricane Sandy as plans were activated and 18% of the agencies had to be relocated to alternate sites due to lack of heat/water and electricity. Activation of COOP plans during Sandy led the OEM COOP team to introduce the Small Scale Relocation Consortium, which seeks to pool together smaller workspaces across city facilities (i.e. conference rooms, underused areas, etc.) that could be used to temporarily house another agency's displaced operations.
In 2013, OEM was invited to join the Twitter Alerts program, which is designed to help Twitter users get important and accurate information during emergencies, natural disasters or moments when other communications services aren't accessible. Both @NotifyNYC and @nycoem are part of the pilot program, which included roughly 100 agencies worldwide.
Notify NYC's redesigned website also premiered in 2013. Focusing on a user-centric experience, the website allows residents to subscribe to Notify NYC, change their subscriber notification settings, and refer others to the program.
Since Hurricane Irene, OEM has made strides in its use of social media. The agency's social media presence has dramatically expanded with the debut of the @nycoem Twitter account in August 2012, followed by LinkedIn and Instagram in 2013. At the end of 2013, OEM had more than 7,900 followers for its @nycoem Twitter handle, more than 70,000 followers for its @NotifyNYC Twitter handle, and over 23,600 Facebook likes.
Hurricane Sandy was unlike any storm in the city's history. Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012, and shaped much of what OEM did before, during, and after the storm. The City's response to the storm is detailed in the Hurricane Sandy After-Action Report, which is a comprehensive review of the City's preparedness measures and recovery operations from the initial forecasts to continued actions months later. The report also contains recommendations to strengthen the City's capacity to respond quickly and effectively to future storms and other emergencies.
Photo Credit: Michael Anton
The City's Coastal Storm Plan — which was improved following Hurricane Irene in August 2011 — enabled a more effective response for Sandy. Along with this plan, the City activated its Flash Flood Emergency Plan, Debris Management Plan, Damage Assessment Plan, Donations and Volunteer Management Plan, and Animal Management and Care Plan. The City also mobilized the Emergency Supply Stockpile, and took the steps necessary to open evacuation centers, hurricane shelters, and special medical needs shelters.
The Emergency Supply Stockpile (ESS) consists of over 6,000 pallets of medical supplies, personal care items, cots, blankets, food, water, and baby and pet supplies. While designed to be deployed over a 48-hour period, the ESS was fully deployed in just 29 hours ahead of Sandy. The ESS serves as an on-call resource that can be activated quickly in the event of a coastal storm or other hazards.
On October 26, 2012, OEM activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which was to become the nerve center for all decision-making and the management of the City's response to the storm. The EOC was staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week for more than a month, and housed OEM personnel and many agency liaisons for 107 days.
The Logistics Center (LC) is a scalable operation that supports resource management and movement control during emergencies in New York City. When activated, the LC is responsible for coordinating resource management and movement control, including identification, sourcing, delivery, staging, distribution, and demobilization of resources. On October 26, 2012, the LC opened at the OEM Warehouse in Brooklyn. As recovery operations began to wind down, it was relocated to the Emergency Operations Center at OEM headquarters, where it remained operational through mid-February 2013. In all, the LC processed nearly 2,700 resource requests for over 1.6 million items during Sandy response and recovery efforts.
OEM's Finance and Legal divisions received approval for over $9 million in emergency procurements to support the City's response to and recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
Ahead of Sandy's landfall, OEM activated the Advance Warning System (AWS), which reaches more than 623,000 members of the senior and special needs communities through a network of over 1,500 governmental and nongovernmental organizations. OEM sent 16 Sandy-related AWS messages before, during, and after the storm.
OEM also relayed information to the public through Notify NYC, which provides real-time information about emergency events and City services. OEM sent Notify NYC alerts via phone, text, email and Twitter to over 165,000 residents registered for the program. From October 27 to November 27, these subscribers received a total of 67 messages related to Hurricane Sandy. Notify NYC's reach expanded by almost 15 percent during Sandy, gaining more than 9,600 new subscribers and 12,000 Twitter followers.
In addition to traditional media outreach and social media before, during, and after Sandy, OEM sent the mandatory evacuation alert through the Wireless Emergency Alerts system (WEA), which sent an emergency text message to all equipped cell phones in New York City. This was the first time that a local municipality or state activated this alert system to disseminate an emergency message. OEM sent out two additional WEA messages on October 29: one that alerted the public to call 911 only to address a life-threatening emergency, and one that alerted the public not to use the roads.
On Sunday, October 28, Mayor Bloomberg ordered a mandatory general population evacuation for what was defined in the Coastal Storm Plan as Zone A, as well as the Rockaways, Hamilton Beach, and City Island (375,000 residents). It marked the second time in New York City's history that such a mandatory evacuation was ordered. As part of this decision, the City opened 65 evacuation centers, 73 shelters, and eight special medical needs shelters, which were staffed by more than 4,000 City workers and housed approximately 6,800 evacuees. The Unified Operations and Resource Center, an interagency task force led by OEM with the Department of Homeless Services, coordinated the sheltering operation. Using a system developed by OEM, City employees were notified, deployed, and tracked with over one million emails and phone calls.
Photo Credit: Kristen Artz
As part of the City's preparations for Sandy, the Healthcare Facility Evacuation Center (HEC) opened at OEM headquarters to prepare for the potential evacuation of healthcare facilities. The decision of whether to evacuate is not taken lightly, as the risk of sheltering in place must be balanced against the potential adverse consequences of moving individuals from a healthcare facility. As healthcare facilities began to evacuate patients, the HEC arranged supplies, beds, and transportation.
In 2012, OEM established a licensing agreement with the New York Mets for use of stadium parking areas at Citi Field, enabling the staging of large equipment, such as light towers, generators, and pumps that can be dispatched for critical operations. Following Sandy, OEM and New York State OEM set up a joint Logistics Staging Area (LSA), with other areas designated for Con Edison, which played a crucial role in deploying equipment for response and recovery operations. The LSA was active 24 hours a day, seven days a week from October 2012 through mid-February 2013.
In December 2013, the Department of Homeland Security awarded the Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience to the New York Mets for its contributions to the community in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Roughly 600 million gallons of water infiltrated the city during Hurricane Sandy. In the immediate response, OEM worked alongside FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Transit Authority to identify and prioritize dewatering of flooded locations.
Photo Credit: Metropolitan Transit Authority
Sandy's salt water surge inundation knocked out power to more than 700,000 customers (roughly 2.5 million people) in New York City. In response, OEM coordinated the NYC Generator Task Force and deployed 232 large generators to hospitals, nursing homes, large multi-family buildings, and New York City Housing Authority developments.
One of the biggest challenges the City faced after Sandy was the amount of debris left behind. To address this, OEM established the Debris Removal Task Force (DRTF), which moved debris to several temporary storage sites for reduction, recycling, and disposal. The DRTF comprised 25 federal, state, and local agencies, which were charged with coordinating removal and final disposal of over 2 million cubic yards of debris.
Photo Credit: Emilee McGovern
The Debris Removal Task Force was involved in several operations, including:
Sandy's storm surge and waves eroded the city's beaches and left streets, walkways and private properties in beachfront areas covered in sand. The task force reclaimed more than 187,000 cubic yards of sand from the streets and public property, saving taxpayers over $80 million and reducing the task force's carbon footprint by eliminating the need to transport sand to out-of-state landfills.
Sandy displaced most of Rockaway Beach's 5.5‐mile boardwalk, which was made of valuable tropical woods. The task force salvaged all undamaged wood — 144,000 square feet of decking and 55,000 square feet of support joists. The NYC Parks Department will use it for various beachfront construction projects, including boardwalk repair.
Wetland Debris Removal
Debris was pushed into the Oakwood Beach wetland in Staten Island, posing a major health and safety threat to surrounding neighborhoods. In addition to the wetland's importance in the water cycle and for wildlife habitat, this area is part of the Staten Island Bluebelt, a collection of natural drainage corridors that have been preserved for conveying, storing, and filtering storm water. The task force, using environmentally conscious processing, removed over 5,000 cubic yards of debris and hazardous waste from this site.
Reuse of Vegetative Debris
Sandy knocked down or damaged 20,000 trees. The task force worked under a strict federal mandate that required all vegetative debris to be chipped to prevent the spread of the Asian Longhorned beetle. The task force chipped nearly 200,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris and 85% of this has been or will be recycled as mulch and ground cover.
The task force ensured the following items were recycled from the debris gathered at the temporary storage site: metal, concrete, household hazardous waste, appliances, electronics, heavy woods, small motors, and fuel. Prior to demolition of any structures, materials containing asbestos were removed and and properly disposed. Remaining debris was shipped to municipal solid waste facilities, where additional recycling took place.
Housing Demolition Coordination
The task force coordinated the demolition of 346 Sandy-damaged homes and the removal of debris for approximately 200 private residences, where homes were either destroyed by storm surge or by fire during the storm.
Photo Credit: NYC Mayor's Office
The NYC Debris Removal Task Force created a new model and standard for post-disaster environmental responsibility and sustainability, and was nominated for the international Green Star Award by FEMA for its efforts in sand renewal, boardwalk recycling, wetland debris removal, reuse of vegetative debris, and debris recycling. Commissioner Bruno accepted the award in Geneva, Switzerland, in September 2013.
Photo Credit: Gosia Wieruszewska/Green Cross International
After Sandy hit, first responders initiated aggressive search, rescue, and security operations, and Urban Search and Rescue teams conducted door-to-door searches of over 30,000 homes in affected areas. Following this mission, OEM coordinated the Support to Residents in Their Homes operation with the National Guard, the Fire Department Incident Management Team, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, with support from FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, volunteers, and other NYC agencies. This outreach involved going door to door to check on residents' well-being, distributing supplies like blankets and toiletries, providing information about available resources and Restoration Centers, referring residents to medical teams, and identifying homes for repairs.
In June 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced at least $500 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding would be available statewide as a result of Hurricane Sandy. OEM led a 30-person team to coordinate the City's applications for these HMGP funds. The City submitted 40 applications for mitigation projects totaling $550 million across 14 agencies. All proposed projects aim to make New York City more resilient to hazards including flooding and power disruption. Projects include: acquiring generators for facilities with vulnerable populations, such as schools, nursing homes, and public housing units; flood-proofing critical facilities such as hospitals, police stations, tunnels, and waste water treatment plants; and improving drainage in parks and along roadways.
Photo Credit: Charles Denson/Coney Island History Project