New York is vulnerable to a variety of natural disasters. The risk is so great that New York City has an Office of Emergency Management to help residents and business owners prepare for the worst. Officials in New York are most concerned about fires, floods, and severe weather like hurricanes and winter storms. Read on to learn how to protect yourself from New York’s natural hazards.
Storms and Hurricanes
It has been calculated that a Category 4 hurricane would cause a storm surge so great that it would send water 6 miles up Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. Coastal storms and hurricanes affect New York often. The densely populated New York coastline makes this state especially vulnerable to damage from tropical storms and hurricanes.
Those who live within 10 blocks of a coastal area are advised to have an emergency disaster plan and kit should an evacuation be ordered. It will only take winds of up 70 mph to topple buildings and trees. Heavy rains could cause a storm surge that would inundate parts of the coastline with up to 30 feet of water.
Those who live in high-rise apartment buildings in a coastal area should make plans to evacuate in the event of a tropical storm.
The brush in the grasslands of New York is known to catch fire during the hot dry months of the summer.
Residents are encouraged to keep their plants and lawns well hydrated, weeds tamed, and grass mowed. Plants and trees should not be grown near homes, and one is encouraged to plant vegetation that is less likely to catch fire when landscaping. Any wood that is dead should be removed from trees, and branches that are less than 10 feet from the ground should be trimmed off.
Homes are less like to have problems with wildfires if trash and flammable materials are disposed of properly. Flammable chemicals and unused firewood should be stored in a location away from the home. The roof and gutters should also be kept clear of leaves and other debris that easily dry out.
Intense rain causes flash floods in New York. The heavy rains have sometimes caused sewers to back up into homes and businesses. Much of the infrastructure of New York cannot handle rain that falls at a rate of more than one inch per hour. This is especially true for the lower lying areas.
New York is not a stranger to wild weather like hail, extreme heat, thunderstorms, and strong winds. It is estimated that lightening hits the Empire State Building 23 times each year. Tornadoes are not unheard in some parts of New York state.
New York gets dangerously cold in the winter. The winter weather makes roads icy and slippery, causing traffic accidents. Additionally, the FDNY fields many reports of fires caused by fireplaces and electric heaters. Flooding is often reported because of frozen pipes bursting.
To prevent such domestic catastrophes, make sure heating systems and pipes are well prepared for the freezing weather.
Disasters that are officially declared by U.S. government have been caused by weather 90% of the time every year. Residents of New York can prepare for disastrous event by evaluating the risks in their area, creating an emergency disaster plan, and packing an emergency kit.
~ Flora Richards-Gustafson, 2009