NEW YORK, N.Y. – It’s been almost 15 years since New York State updated its hurricane evacuation plan.
Since then, the state has experienced multiple deadly weather events like Superstorm Sandy and the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
On Thursday morning, officials announced a new Hurricane Evacuation Study is being worked on and they believe this new plan will improve the response during hurricanes.
Jackie Bray is the commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
“Climate change plays a role for all of us in how we do our jobs and so it’s very possible that new communities have to worry about coastal storms that maybe haven’t had to worry about coastal storms in the past,” Bray said.
There are 22 coastal states in the country that are impacted by Atlantic hurricanes and New York will be the first state to modernize its study, which will include upstate communities.
“The latest storm surge modeling has identified flood surge vulnerability up the Hudson River, all the way up to Albany County,” said David Warrington, regional administrator of FEMA Region 2.
The new plan will include updated evacuation routes and evacuation times and will look at the behavior of communities when asked to evacuate.
Hurricane Ida also showed the need to focus on inland flooding, which can be deadly, and the need to communicate quickly in places where English isn’t a first language for many residents.
“We’ve got to smash all of that together and make sure that we’ve got the plans we can as a state,” Bray added.
The study involves government at local, state, and federal levels including FEMA and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. It will be completed in five phases with Phase 1 being done by the end of this year.
Hurricane season begins on June 1 and officials are warning families to be proactive to get their emergency preparedness plan ready now.
They suggest three main tips:
- HAVE A PLAN: Know now what your flood zone is. Do not wait until a storm comes to learn that important piece of information. Know what type of hazards can impact your community and how you would get out.
- BE PREPARED: Make sure to have items in your home in a “go bag” if you need to evacuate quickly. Keep extra batteries in a safe place for flashlights or keep a few days’ worth of water on hand.
- STAY INFORMED: Be up to date on the latest information by listening to the local news or reading reputable websites of local government agencies.