Wednesday, August 31, 2011

President Declares Disaster For New York

As expected, the President agreed to Gov. Cuomo's request and has designated areas in New York to receive disaster aid. The Presidential declaration is in two parts:
  1. Individuals. Those living in Albany, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Ulster counties can qualify for assistance that can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured or underinsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
  2. Government and some nonprofits. Some nonprofits in Albany, Bronx, Clinton, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Nassau, New York, Queens, Rensselaer, Richmond, Rockland, Schoharie, Suffolk, Ulster, Warren, and Westchester counties can receive partial reimbursement for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Hurricane Irene.
Please look at the list of counties carefully.If your county is not listed, don't give up hope. Sometimes the disaster declaration is expanded. As we receive more information we'll send it out.

The federal assistance is for the reimbursement of covered and documented expenses. You don't have to wait to begin your repairs, just keep a careful record of your outlays (e.g.,  staff time, contractors, equipment, etc.).

If you think that you, your business or your organization are eligible, begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362).   

See the FEMA release after the jump.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg's Press Conference Highlights

  • Because Irene is now bearing down on us at a faster speed, we are issuing a mandatory evacuation order for New Yorkers who live in the low-lying Zone “A” coastal areas in all five boroughs that are at greatest risk of damage related to Irene, including all parts of the Rockaways.
  • City Health Commissioner Tom Farley will be working with senior homes and nursing homes, and the two hospitals in the Zone “B” part of the Rockaways to try to find alternative sites for their residents. 
  • Nevertheless for people who live in private homes, we want you to leave the Rockaways due to its exposure to the ocean and the potential that emergency services may not be provided due to the closing of bridges.
  • People should be out of these areas by 5 pm Saturday. In a storm with wind and very high tides there are risks that endanger public safety. I cannot stress it enough. Please: Nature is a force more powerful than us. Better to be safe and sorry.
  • The low-lying coastal areas that may be endangered by a storm surge include:Coney Island and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn…. Far Rockaway and Broad Channel in Queens… South Beach, Midland Beach, and other low-lying areas on Staten Island… Battery Park City in Manhattan… and some small sections of the Bronx.
  • We’ve never done a mandatory evacuation before – and we wouldn’t be doing this now if we didn’t think this was serious.
MTA shutdown
  • In addition, MTA service, including subways, buses, and railroads, will begin to shut down at noon tomorrow.
  • Depending on the effect of the storm MTA service may not be restored in time for rush hour Monday morning.
  • As of 4 pm today we are opening 91 emergency facilities. They’re a combination of evacuation centers and emergency shelters. They’re being staffed by City employees, some on a volunteer basis. We have the capacity to expand that system greatly if needed.
  • Yesterday we issued an executive order yesterday afternoon directing all hospitals, nursing homes, and senior homes in our low-lying coastal areas to evacuate their patients today and directed them to complete this process by 8 p.m. 
  • There are five hospitals in this zone. All of them – Coney Island Hospital, both campuses of Staten Island University Hospital, the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Manhattan, and NYU Medical Center on Manhattan’s East Side – are evacuating their patients to other hospitals. 
  • Yesterday’s Executive Order also covered eight nursing homes, one psychiatric facility, and eight adult care facilities. All of them are evacuating as well.
Storm details
  • The National Weather Service has put the entire New York metropolitan area under a hurricane watch – which means that sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or more are forecast – for Saturday evening through Sunday.
  • The current forecast is that Irene will reach the New York metropolitan area as a Category One storm. The ground speed of the storm has accelerated; gale forces winds of 40 miles per hour will reach us by 9 pm Saturday. 
  • We don’t yet know where the full brunt of the storm will be felt. But in any case, Irene is going to hit New York City with very high winds and heavy rains Saturday night and all through Sunday. It’s going to be a very dangerous storm, especially in low-lying areas of the city.

Mandatory evacuations and more

Irene has the potential to be a very serious storm in our area. Mayor Bloomberg has ordered a mandatory evacuation of Evacuation Zone A (including Coney Island and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, Far Rockaway and Broad Channel in Queens, South Beach, Midland Beach, and other low-lying areas on Staten Island, and Battery Park City in Manhattan) and all of the Rockaways. Nassau/Suffolk areas south of Sunrise Highway have similar vulnerabilities.

Kudos to the Far Rockaways/Five Towns areas, led by the CERT, Achiezer, the JCC's and Hatzalah. They are doing an AMAZING job. Our prayers are with all who are in the crosshairs of the worst of the storm.

Nassau County Guidance

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Irene is closing in

NYC OEM is working with the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center and report the following for planning purposes only:
  1. Storm track. The storm track is changing and moving west, putting the metropolitan area into the track of Hurricane Irene. They now predict a strong Category I or a weak Category II hurricane, with the eye of the storm achieving landfall along the Queens/Nassau County border (this can change again). Winds of 75-94 mph (with higher gusts) are likely. Forecasters expect a Hurricane Watch to be issued in the next 12-24 hours. If the predictions are correct, there will be 6-12" of rain (on already saturated ground) and a storm surge of 6-12 feet --  this will be the strongest storm to strike NYC since 1893.
  2. Evacuation. New York City has not yet decided whether to order a general evacuation, but the possibility is on the table. If NYC orders an evacuation it will be for evacuation zones A & B. Find your evacuation zone by following these links: NYC, Nassau (including evacuation routes), Suffolk and Westchester.
  3. Zero Hour. Forecasters predict that winds will exceed 39 mph between midnight and 3 AM Sunday morning. When they do, public transportation and emergency services will cease operations (the exact time and protocols are currently being discussed). Trying to evacuate after Zero Hour will be dangerous.
  4. Messaging. The media is getting the word out already. We advise that you use your networks to publicize the information on our blog here and to prepare to "hunker down" with plenty of food, water and supplies or to evacuate, if ordered.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

NY is in Irene's path. Make preparations now

Yesterday's earthquake reinforced the fact that nature is unpredictable. Nonetheless, forecasters predict that Hurricane Irene is likely to impact the NY metropolitan area over the weekend.  Currently, the National Weather Service predicts tropical storm conditions, but that could change. The heavy wind and rains increase the likelihood of flooding, fallen trees, blocked roads and power outages, so weather conditions should be closely monitored.

For more information (including an overview and NY area historic patterns and conditions), view an excellent presentation by I. Ross Dickman, Meteorologist-in-charge, NOAA's National Weather Service, New York, NY office (in Upton).

The JCRC-NY recommends:
  • Be informed. Broadcast and print media are doing a good job, but storms can be unpredictable. Pay attention to the updates. For preparation planning tips, see information from NYC, Nassau (including evacuation routes), Suffolk and Westchester.
  • Do you live in an evacuation zone?   If you do, determine where you will go and how you will get there if there is an evacuation. If you have pets, you should prepare for them as well.
  • Plan and Prepare. 
  • Think about Shabbat.  Forecasters predict a wet Shabbat, but not one with tropical storm conditions. It is still worthwhile to think about special Halakhic considerations for hurricanes. The Orthodox Union issued Shabbat Protocols in Case of a Hurricane, written by Rabbi Kenneth Brander (now of Yeshivah University) with thanks to Rabbi Hershel Schachter for his guidance. While these protocols are an excellent guide to the issues of concern, consult with appropriate rabbinical authorities about specific guidance regarding the expected conditions of the upcoming storm.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The FBI's Child ID App

The FBI's new Child ID app can be downloaded for free from the App Store on iTunes. Download App | View GalleryPodcast: About the Child ID App
You're shopping at the mall with your children when one of them suddenly disappears. A quick search of the nearby area is unsuccessful. What do you do? 

Now there's a free new tool from the FBI that can help. Our just launched Child ID app—the first mobile application created by the FBI—provides a convenient place to electronically store photos and vital information about your children so that it’s literally right at hand if you need it. You can show the pictures and provide physical identifiers such as height and weight to security or police officers on the spot. Using a special tab on the app, you can also quickly and easily e-mail the information to authorities with a few clicks. 

The app also includes tips on keeping children safe as well as specific guidance on what to do in those first few crucial hours after a child goes missing.

Share the word about this app with family and friends, especially during upcoming activities in your communities to raise awareness on crime and drug prevention.

Thanks to the Sgt. Jerry Ioveno of the NYPD for the following:

Be very careful with this application. It stores all of your children's information on your phone. If your phone gets stolen or it is lost others will have all your child's information and there is no lock on the application to secure it from criminals.
Use the pertinent parts of the application. No addresses, only emergency contact numbers. No personal info except for height, weight, eye color, hair color.