State Preparations Continue for Flood Control, Utilities, Health Facilities, Evacuations and Park Closures New Yorkers Can Now Call Hurricane Sandy Helpline for Information
Albany, NY (October 29, 2012)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to close New York City bridges at 7:00 PM today. With storm gusts expected to be up to 80-85 mph, the bridges in the NYC area are quickly becoming unsafe. However, emergency vehicles and personnel are exempted from traffic restrictions to the degree practical. The following bridges will be closed:
- Throgs Neck Bridge
- Bronx-Whitestone Bridge
- Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
- Henry Hudson Bridge
- Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge
- Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge
- George Washington Bridge
The Staten Island crossings – Bayonne Bridge, Goethals Bridge, and Outerbridge Crossing – and the Robert F. Kennedy/Triborough Bridge will stay open as long as possible consistent with safety. However, closures could occur imminently and motorists should be aware.
In addition, the Hudson River bridges north of the Tappan Zee Bridge are not being closed at this time. New York State Bridge Authority bridges will remain open as conditions permit.
Preparations by state agencies are continuing across the State of New York in response to Hurricane Sandy. In addition, the Hurricane Sandy Helpline is open for the public to call if they need help or more information on preparations.
“With weather conditions becoming more dangerous for drivers, I have directed bridges in the New York City area to be closed,” Governor Cuomo said. “State government is continuing to be vigilant in our preparations for Hurricane Sandy. I urge New Yorkers to continue tracking the storm by listening and watching the news and to follow the directions of local officials for their own safety.”
Effective immediately, the State Department of Transportation (DOT) is prohibiting all non-emergency oversize vehicles routed on or south of Interstate 84 due to the impending effects of Hurricane Sandy. This includes Nassau and Suffolk counties. Oversize vehicles travel by permit. Any submitted permit with routes in the restricted area will be denied until further notice.
DOT advises motorists to drive with extreme caution and to avoid traveling if possible during Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to hit most of New York State today. DOT this morning began closing roads and bridges in the New York metropolitan area. Road and bridges are being closed on a regular basis due to flooding and downed trees and power lines on roadways. Check 511NY for the latest closures.
Road closures should be strictly obeyed by motorists. They are put in place when extremely dangerous driving conditions exist and motorists could be in danger of bodily harm if they ignore them. Motorists are reminded that, if a traffic signal is dark because of a power outage, motorists should treat the intersection as a four-way stop with alternating traffic proceeding through the intersection. Additionally, motorists should never travel through standing water. It only takes two inches of flowing water to carry away a vehicle.
DOT is preparing for the storm by readying equipment; organizing crews for tree chipping to remove down trees and limbs on roadways; identifying staff to conduct flood watches, monitoring bridges as water rises; and mobilizing staff to respond within each region of the state, including maintenance crews and damage inspection teams. The Department has identified more than 3,900 people and 1,350 dump trucks, 11 bucket trucks, 73 excavators, 311 loaders and 106 chippers for storm response deployment. Staff and equipment will be moved as necessary to assist in areas of the state that are hit by the storm.
Motorists are strongly urged to check 511NY before traveling to access current road conditions. The free service is available by calling 5-1-1, visiting www.511NY.org, or by downloading the new mobile app for smart phones. 511NY will have up-to-date information regarding road and bridge closures, as well as transit, commuter rail, and airport delays. The 511NY website features traffic and transit conditions in a map or list format. It is also available on Facebook and Twitter, which issues automatic updates as roads close and reopen.
FLOOD CONTROL AND UTILITIES
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has taken the necessary steps and precautions at its statewide generation and transmission facilities for the extreme weather in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy. This includes deploying extra staff to its facilities. NYPA has activated its Emergency Operations Centers at its regional facilities around the state and at its White Plains administrative office, in line with the Authority’s Corporate Emergency Management Plan.
To minimize potential flooding, NYPA has reduced the water level at the lower reservoir at the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project to the minimum in the event of accelerated storm-induced water inflows to the Schoharie Creek. The hydroelectric project will not generate power during the storm out of concern for any possibility of flood conditions downstream of the facility.
NYPA has also worked closely with the state Canal Corporation and the DEC to lower the water level of the Hinckley Reservoir where NYPA has a small-hydroelectric project. This action provides more reservoir storage capacity and will reduce water outflows to the West Canada Creek should there be heavy rains over the next couple of days.
NYPA has secured all equipment at its facility sites around the state to ensure there is no flying debris from high wind conditions. Transmission line crews from three NYPA facilities—the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project, the Blenheim-Gilboa plant, and the Frederick R. Clark Energy Center—have been placed on standby to work in the event of storm-related damage to the NYPA transmission system or to provide assistance to other utilities in the state in case of damaged power lines and equipment. Transmission line trucks are fueled and loaded with the necessary equipment for quick dispatch. Snow plows at NYPA facilities are fully fueled and ready if needed.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND WATER RESCUE
Various state agencies have water rescue personnel and boats available to respond to the storm, including:
NYS Office of Fire Prevention & Control
- New York Task Force (NY TF-2): Two Water Rescue Teams (approx. 30 people) – one each from Franklin and Orange counties
Division of State Police
- Two Zodiacs
- One Airboat
- 11 boats of varying sizes and capabilities
Office of Parks and Recreation
Department of Environmental Conservation
- Marine Enforcement Unit- 5 large (over 21')- 1 NYC (on trailer), 2 Nassau (on trailers), 2 Suffolk (1 docked, 1 on trailer)
- Region 1- Nassau/Suffolk 8 small vessels on trailers.
- Region 2- NYC- 2 large- 1 docked, 1 on trailer.
- Region 3- Hudson Valley- 6 small vessels on trailers.
- Region 4- Capital District- 1 large vessel on trailer, 2 small vessels on trailers.
- Region 5- Adirondacks- 1 large vessel docked (Lake Champlain), 6 small vessels on trailers.
- Region 6- Watertown- 1 large vessel docked (Lake Ontario), 3 small vessels
- Region 7- Syracuse- 7 small vessels on trailers
- Region 8- Avon-3 small vessels on trailers
- Region 9- Buffalo- 6 small vessels on trailers
EVACUATIONS AND STATE PARK CLOSURES
The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has prepared Belleayre Mountain for use as an evacuation center and for equipment staging. Belleayre was used as an evacuation center during Hurricane Irene.
The State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) has closed the following state parks:
- Long Island: All State Parks in Nassau and Suffolk Counties are closed until further notice.
- New York City: All State Parks in New York City are closed until further notice.
- Hudson Valley (Taconic and Palisades regions): The Walkway Over the Hudson is closed until further notice.
- Saratoga-Capital Region: The Avenue of Pines in Saratoga State Park will be closed until further notice due to high wind warnings. A section of the roadway will be open from Route 50 to the Gideon Putnam Road to allow access to the Gideon Putnam Hotel.
- Central New York: Gilbert Lake, Oquaga Creek, Chenango Valley, Delta lake, and Glimmerglass, including the Hyde Hall State Historic Site are closed until further notice due to the potential for damage from high winds.
- Finger Lakes: Soaring Eagles Golf Course, Indian Hills Golf Course, Watkins Glen gorge trail, and the Stony Brook gorge trail are closed until further notice.
- Genesee Region: Hamlin Beach State Park is closed until further notice.
The State Department of Health (DOH) has sent more than 80,000 notifications, which include phone calls, emails, alerts, etc., regarding patient safety efforts and storm preparedness plans to health care facilities, first responders and EMS providers.
DOH has contacted each and every health care facility in Zone A in New York City. DOH staff has been sent to healthcare facilities in the Far Rockaways and Coney Island to support response efforts by assessing staffing, supplies, and patient safety efforts. They ensured that:
- Generators were functional.
- Supplies, including non-perishable food, water, medications, and fuel are on hand and in quantities to meet needs for a minimum of 72 hours.
- Residents, including those wheelchair-bound, were moved safely to higher floors or, if needed due to care-level needs, to other facilities.
At the direction of the Governor, DOH has required that all nursing homes and adult care facilities in NYC, Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau counties staffing be more than 150 percent of baseline. Since that directive, staffing requirements have been met across the board.
DOH has successfully relocated more than 2,000 patients, including those who are on ventilators and others dependent on continuous source of electricity to maintain health care services and treatment.
DOH is also continuing to collect real-time data through the HERDS (Health Emergency Response Data System) Survey regarding health care facilities current census data, supply, staffing, and other urgent data points.
ACTIVATION OF HURRICANE SANDY HELPLINE
The state's Hurricane Sandy Helpline is now open for New York State residents in anticipation of the storm’s landfall. Residents can call 1–888-769-7243 or 1-518-485-1159 for information about preparing for the hurricane and its impact.
Information will also be available for referrals to County Emergency Management Offices and American Red Cross Shelters as well as road closures. Language translation services are also available by request. Past Contact Center emergency call experience includes the Haitian Earthquake relief, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the Lake Champlain Bridge closure.
Residents in certain areas can also call 2-1-1 where United Way 2-1-1 operators will provide information on shelters, local assistance center locations, mental health resources, and food banks. Operators will collect and maintain information on offers of assistance, donations and those wishing to volunteer. The following are 2-1-1 hours of operations for different regions of the state:
- New York City, Finger Lakes (including Tompkins, & Bath partner sites): 24 hours a day
- Western New York (serving Hudson Valley, the Adirondacks, the Capital Region and Long Island): 9am – 7pm
- Susquehanna River Region: 8:30pm – 4pm
- PLEASE NOTE: 2-1-1 does not operate in most of Central New York.
To get the latest updates on the storm, follow the Governor on Twitter and subscribe to our Storm Watch list. You can also visit www.governor.ny.gov or connect with the Governor on Facebook for more information.
Visit www.dhses.ny.gov/aware-prepare/ for safety tips from DHSES on how to be prepared.
Updates via cellphone and computer are also available from NY ALERT, New York State’s All-Hazards Alert and Notification System. NY ALERT is a free, web-based portal that allows State agencies, county and local governments, emergency service agencies and institutions of higher learning to provide emergency alerting information and private notifications to the public. If you wish to receive emergency information, you can register on the NY-ALERT website at www.nyalert.gov. Your email address will be your identifier. If you do not have access to the web, you may still sign up for NY-ALERT by calling 1-888-697-6972.