Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 16, 2020

CONTACT: media@nycha.nyc.gov | (212) 306-3322

NYCHA MAKES NECESSARY PREPARATIONS AHEAD OF WINTER STORM GAIL

Mobilization of multiple NYCHA departments and resources will facilitate faster and more robust emergency response ahead of significant snowfall and high wind gusts

NEW YORK – The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) will activate its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Thursday morning at 6 AM to manage the response and snow removal efforts associated with Winter Storm Gail – which is expected to bring significant snowfall, heavy wind gusts, and coastal flooding conditions to the New York City region starting on Wednesday afternoon and continuing throughout the night.

Coordinated by the Authority’s Office of Emergency Management, the centralized Emergency Operations Center will be operational through 6 PM Thursday, with NYCHA departments that include Emergency Services; Elevator Services and Repairs; Heating Management Services; Maintenance, Repair & Skilled Trades; Operations; Capital Projects; Community Engagement & Partnerships; Communications; and Intergovernmental Relations. The combined presence of these various departments will enable NYCHA to quickly respond to service interruptions and public safety hazards and communicate information to NYCHA residents throughout the city.

“The brunt of this storm’s impact will occur by the evening and overnight hours, which presents a unique challenge to the response effort,” said NYCHA General Manager Vito Mustaciuolo. “By activating the Emergency Operations Center early tomorrow morning and prepping our equipment, staff, and partner vendors well in advance, we can minimize the disruption Winter Storm Gail might cause to our residents.”

The New York City Emergency Management Department issued a hazardous travel advisory for Wednesday, December 16 through Thursday, December 17, as Winter Storm Gail is expected to bring light snow starting on Wednesday afternoon that will intensify through the night. Overall, the storm has the potential for near blizzard conditions and wind chill temperatures in the teens, icy conditions, sustained wind gusts that could reach 45 MPH, and minor to moderate coastal flooding.

NYCHA has taken a range of measures to prepare for Winter Storm Gail’s arrival. They include mobilizing snow removal equipment and bringing in additional staff, as needed; alerting area tree vendors; and assembling additional roving teams of heating technicians, with plumbers and electricians at the ready as well. Additionally, mobile generators have been prepared for deployment, construction sheds are being secured, and additional vendors have been put on alert should their response be needed.

With the Authority’s Heating Dashboard and data from heat sensors in the Computerized Heating Automation System being actively monitored by NYCHA’s Heat Desk, the EOC will allow NYCHA to respond to heating service and power interruptions – as well as other safety hazards such as downed trees and power lines, flooded areas, and exposed roofs and ceilings.

Staff from NYCHA’s Heat Desk and Skilled Trades departments will be in contact with front-line development staff throughout the day and will provide reports to Heating, Operations, and Executive staff every two hours.

NYCHA’s Office of Emergency Management also coordinates with the New York City Emergency Management Department to identify additional external resources, if needed, during any unscheduled service interruptions. Per standard protocol, the New York City Emergency Management Department is activating the city’s Winter Weather Emergency Plan and its own Emergency Operations Center.

This week marks the first activation of NYCHA's virtual Emergency Operations Center during the 2020-2021 heating season.

This year, it has taken an average of 9 hours to restore heat and hot water services compared to 10 hours last heating season. NYCHA has invested more than $45 million to upgrade heat and hot water equipment as well as related heating system parts since the start of 2020 and has hired 70 new heating plant technicians and 12 plumbing teams over the past year to provide 24/7 coverage, including evening and overnight roving teams.

The activation of the Emergency Operations Center aligns with the Authority's efforts to work closely with the de Blasio administration when responding to inclement weather events.

Below are some winter storm safety tips:

  • Stay off the roads as much as possible. If you must travel, use mass transit, wear a face covering, and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • If you must drive, drive slowly. Allow for extra travel time, and exercise caution when traveling. Use major streets or highways for travel whenever possible.
  • Pedestrians should exercise caution and avoid slippery surfaces; some ice may not be visible. Wear sturdy boots that provide traction to reduce slipping. Use handrails when using stairs.
  • Seniors should take extra care outdoors to avoid slips and falls.
  • Have heightened awareness of cars, particularly when approaching or crossing intersections.
  • If you have to go outdoors, wear dry, warm clothing and cover exposed skin. Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered. Wear a hat, hood, scarf, and gloves.
  • Be careful when shoveling snow. Follow your doctor’s advice if you have heart disease or high blood pressure. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart.
  • Charge cell phone batteries.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to a colder setting. If you lose power, items that need refrigeration will stay cooler for longer.
  • If you lose power and have a disability/access and functional needs or use life-sustaining equipment and need immediate assistance, dial 911.
  • Stay informed. Before and during an emergency, the City will send emergency alerts and updates to New Yorkers through various channels, including Notify NYC. New Yorkers are encouraged to sign up for Notify NYC, the City’s free emergency communications program. To sign up for Notify NYC, download the free mobile application, visit NYC.gov/NotifyNYC, call 311, or follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter.
  • For additional safety tips, visit NYC.gov/SevereWeather.

Residents can report service interruptions using the MyNYCHA app or by calling NYCHA’s Customer Contact Center at 718-707-7771.

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About the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) NYCHA's mission is to increase opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers by providing safe, affordable housing and facilitating access to social and community services. Over 390,000 New Yorkers reside in NYCHA's 316 public housing developments and PACT/RAD developments formerly managed by NYCHA around the five boroughs. Over 190,000 receive subsidized rental assistance in private homes through the NYCHA-administered Section 8 Leased Housing Program. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/nycha, and for regular updates on NYCHA news and services, connect with us via www.facebook.com/NYCHA and www.twitter.com/NYCHA.