October 29, 2012Mandatory Evacuation Order in Effect for All People in Zone A
The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered today at the Office of Emergency Management in Downtown Brooklyn:
"Lydia Callis, again thank you very much for signing for us. I think you know everybody here - Joe Bruno, the Commissioner for the Office of Emergency Management, Sal Cassano, the Commissioner of the Fire Department, Ray Kelly, Commissioner of the Police Department, Cas Holloway, Deputy Mayor for Operations, and Kevin Burke, CEO of Con Ed.
"We are again in the Briefing Room at the Office of Emergency Management. I want to bring you up to date on the storm's progress. First of all, thank you Lydia, and as everybody knows we're already seeing significant impacts from the storm and the worst of it is about to hit.
"I think we have done all we can to prepare. This afternoon I spoke with President Obama, Treasury Secretary Geithner and Governor Cuomo, all whom offered their support, and coordination with the Federal and State government I will say has been great.
"Now as the storm intensifies, the most important thing I can say is if you're in your home or somewhere safe when you can remain, stay there.
"The time for relocation or evacuation is over. Conditions outside are dangerous, and they're only going to get worse in the hours ahead.
"In Queens, we're getting ten times the normal call volume of 911 calls to the FDNY - unfortunately, most are for downed trees or flooding conditions. That's not what 911 is for. That's 311. But if you use 911 it means the operator on the line is not free for somebody who has a real emergency to call. So please use 311 for downed trees or flooding.
"There have been more than 1,000 reports of tree damage in parks and on streets and we're responding to them. Around half of them are for downed trees, half of them are for other damage.
"Earlier today a jogger was struck by a falling limb near Prospect Park and was hospitalized. Fortunately she is going to be okay, and she was not in a closed park, but she was running near it. And when you run under trees, whether they're trees in the street or trees in a park, it is very dangerous with the wind. And a lot of these trees still have leaves on them. When the leaves are on the trees they catch a lot of water. It makes them a lot heavier and they're much more likely to break off, and also to be susceptible to the wind.
"I can't emphasize enough: stay indoors, and certainly away from the parks, the beaches, the boardwalks, piers and seawalls. We actually had to give a couple people summonses for trying to surf today. It is dangerous and the most important thing is that we're going to have to come in after you. And for us to lose an emergency responder because of someone's irresponsibility would be just an outrage. Once again, if you're really in trouble call 911. If not, 311. But 911 is only for true emergencies.
"Now, we've already seen flooding in some of the city's low-lying areas. We've also seen some power loss - more than 47,000 customers have lost power so far in the city. The vast majority of that, as you would expect, is in Queens and Staten Island because those are the areas served with overhead power lines.
"Con Ed may be shutting down power in parts of Lower Manhattan and southern Brooklyn, and Con Ed has been doing outreach to its customers - you may have received a phone call about this. Kevin Burke's going to update us in a couple minutes. This is a preventive measure to protect their equipment from serious damage.
"It's a similar kind of thing to what the MTA did very intelligently of moving their equipment out of harm's way. It may mean we don't have the service of that equipment for a longer period of time, but it also means that when the storm is over we can recover quickly. And if equipment is damaged, whether it's transportation equipment or power equipment, it can take days, weeks, even months to repair. We don't want that. And this time I think we have taken all the appropriate steps.
"As far as transportation: we've seen closures of roadways along the water, and we can expect more. The FDR is either open or closed depending on whether that part of flooded. You should assume that roads that go along the water are going to have big problems and stay to those roads that are on higher ground, more inland.
"In addition to the bridge and tunnel closures that have already been announced, the East River Bridges - the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, and Ed Koch-Queensboro bridge - will close at 7 pm tonight. After 7 pm only emergency vehicles will be permitted on those bridges. The City has something like 1,400 bridges, but most of the others are low bridges and don't really figure in terms of having any extra exposure to the wind.
"As you may know, there is a partially collapsed crane atop a building on West 57th Street. In order to keep residents safe, all buildings on the north and south sides of 57th street between 6th and 7th avenues and all exposed buildings on 56th street between 6th and 7th avenues have been evacuated. One was a large hotel, but the hotel industry has found spaces for the people there. We're sorry for the inconvenience, but better safe than sorry.
"Steam has been shut down in the vicinity of the crane, and water and gas shutdowns are underway as a preventive measure to mitigate damage if the boom from the crane were to collapse and fall into the street. OEM and the Police Department are assisting and providing transportation to shelter for anyone who needs it.
"Earlier today Bob Steel and I spoke to Gary Barnett, President of the Extell Development Company, who is developing the project on 57th Street, and he and his staff are cooperating fully.
"I think we can expect more flooding and more outages as the storm worsens. The most severe part of the storm is now beginning.
"As I said earlier today, Sandy is expected to make landfall just south of Atlantic City. That's in line with what's been predicted all along, although it is happening at a little faster pace than had been predicted. The storm is moving at roughly 30 miles an hour now rather than the 15 that it was doing before. But the city is still very much within the danger zone.
"The strong winds that we're experiencing now will strengthen through rest of the evening, with a high wind warning in effect now through Tuesday. There will be sustained winds of 40 to 55 miles an hour, gusts 70 to 80 miles an hour. That poses danger to power lines, to motorists, and certainly to anyone who's outdoors.
"And as I've emphasized all along, the greatest danger posed by Sandy is the coastal storm surge and flooding that it will produce.
"Now, the high point of this surge will be here shortly: in the Battery and in the Rockaways and on Staten Island, the surge will be highest at roughly 8:15, so say 6:30 to 10:30 is when you really will see the effects of it.
"In parts of the city that are on Long Island Sound, the peak surge will happen about four hours later around midnight between 10 pm and 2 am - and that includes City Island and other parts of the Bronx. And that's because the water that is going to surge there is water that's entered Long Island Sound out around Montauk, and it takes about four hours to come down through Long Island Sound until it hits there.
"The important thing here is stay inside.
"Some other precautions that you probably should take: If you're in a building with elevators, try to avoid using them. If you need to move between floors, use the staircases. Stay away from windows and close the drapes if you haven't already. In fact, one of the buildings that Office of Health and Mental Hygiene is in, the ground flood, one of the windows just blew out. Fortunately nobody hurt, but wind is dangerous and big pieces of glass have a lot of pressure against them. And you never know when one is going to give way.
"And our advice is try to relax and spend a night in. We expect the worst to be over tomorrow. It'll take a day or two to recover. I'm sure there'll be some things it'll take into the weekend to recover. But the most important thing, we'd like to continue what we've experienced so far and that is no fatalities whatsoever. It would be wonderful if we can get through this, and then we can look back and dine on this storm of the century forever, but most importantly is to keep everybody safe.
"With respect to city employees: As I've said, the city is open for business, and it will be open for business tomorrow. Naturally, we do understand that given the storm's conditions and its impact on transportation, it may be difficult for people to get to work on time.
"City employees are expected at work tomorrow and should try their very best to get to work provided they can do that safely - because this is the time when New Yorkers need those of us that work for the City the most.
"Now - we have a recovery plan in place for once the worst of the storm is passed, and we've been also doing work all along since the weather worsened. We will ramp up those efforts as the storm winds down. Kevin, for example, can't get people in cherry-pickers up to fix lines when the winds are this strong. We can't always cut down trees that are half over and clear them in this kind of weather, but we are doing what we can to mitigate the problems currently and to make sure that when the weather moderates we'll be there.
"Please remember: Public transportation is shut down. It will certainly be closed tomorrow morning and likely remain closed through the day. I urge everybody to have patience. The MTA has done a great job of protecting their assets and notifying people, and they'll get mass transit going whenever they can as long as they can do it safely.
"Public schools are obviously closed tomorrow, as are all city after-school programs. City parks will remain closed tomorrow. Please stay out of them. The possibility of a falling limb is real and very dangerous.
"Sanitation crews will be working at 7 am to collect debris. The Department has asked that you not put out any garbage tonight, but wait until the storm has passed. The problem is that no matter how you try to secure it outside it's just going to blow and it just makes a much bigger mess for everybody else.
"Let me again say - the storm's here. It's going to get worse this evening. Tomorrow morning we'll be able to look back and you'll certainly be on the other side of that curve. Stay inside. It's for your own safety. Conditions are going to be very dangerous outside. It's not nasty, this is dangerous. Winds of this magnitude can pick up something in a moment's notice and throw it right at you very hard, and it can be fatal. If you absolutely don't need to be outside, don't take the risk.
"Now let me turn the floor over to Kevin Burke, CEO of Con Edison."
Marc La Vorgna/John McCarthy