City hopes updated flood evacuation zones will save lives

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Broad Channel, Queens-Each Sandy victim has a story about why he or she ignored the city’s mandatory evacuation order.

Some say they lost confidence when the city ordered evacuations during Tropical Storm Irene, then the storm turned out to be a dud.

Others just thought they knew the risk the of their own neighborhood better than city leaders.

“We’ve been here our whole lives, my father grew up here. He wanted to stay and protect the house.  We got five feet here, thank god we have a second floor beucase that’s where we were,” said Samantha Hogan of Broad Channel, Queens.

As a result, some residents found themselves in treacherous situations the night Sandy slammed into the city.

“It was really scary.  The water was up to here inside the house, fish were swimming around,” said Michael Thornton of Broad Channel.

Hogan said, “Boats were floating over across the boulevard… it was scary the electric went out, we couldn’t get in touch with anybody.”

Nearly 50 people lost their lives in New York City.

“I was sad,” said Thornton, “But I was also glad me and my family was still alive.”

Sandy was a lesson for so many, including the city.

Today, new evacuation zones are in place.  There are 600,00 more people included in the evacuation zones than there were before Sandy.

Plus, city leaders decided since FEMA uses letters for flood zones, they switched to numbers to avoid confusion.  Instead of A thru C, there are now Zones 1 thru 6.

Even though there are more people included in more zones, when a storm comes, fewer people may actually get the order to evacuate.  The reason, says the city, is because of updated information gathered by workers who surveyed every neighborhood.  They say they also factored in large storms and high tide – all in an effort to better predict the storm surge and better protect the public.

Chris Miller, a spokesperson with the Office of Emergency Management told PIX 11, “These zones make it easier for the city to target incremental evacuations, so as not to over-evacuate or under-evacuate.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen again so we don’t have to go thru another evacuation,” said Hogan who says her confidence in the city’s evacuation process.