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.
- Stockpile food, water and medicine. Organizations should alert their members and suggest that they top off their food supply and check that they have sufficient medication on hand in the event that they can’t leave the house. People should also have a reserve of water (it’s a good idea to freeze water in gallon plastic bags which can help to prevent the food in your refrigerator from spoiling in the event of a power outage).
- Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit for Home and a Go-Bag for Evacuation
- Prepare a Personal Evacuation Plan
- Develop a Family Communications Plan
- Prepare your organizations for power outages
- 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.