Forecasters predict that Hurricane Florence will aim its “potential for unbelievable damage” at the Carolinas and Virginia and will not have a significant impact on the New York area.
- Find a wealth of information on the FEMA Ready website.
- You should have an emergency plan covering four basic areas: How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings? What is my shelter plan? What is my evacuation route? What is my family/household communication plan? Check out the New York City Emergency Management pocket guides outlining the very basic steps all New Yorkers should take to prepare for an emergency available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Bengali, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Korean, Polish, Urdu, Yiddish
- Know your zone. New York City refined its Evacuation Zones after Sandy. Take a look at the NYC Hurricane Zone Finder and for Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester.
- Get notified. Sign up for emergency alerts from NYC, Nassau, Suffolk and/or Westchester(temporarily unavailable).
- Stock up. As we know from Texas and Florida, storms bring power outages and limited mobility. Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
- Halacha. The Jewish holiday season continues, so think about how severe weather can affect synagogue services and religious observances. Remember, wind conditions in the metropolitan areas in 2015 led emergency planners to advise those with Sukkahs (Sukkot) to dismantle or secure them (See our post Sukkahs in the Wind and an excellent teshuvah on severe weather considerations here).
Please distribute on blogs and synagogue/community listserves.
NYC Emergency Management (NYCEM) is now advising New Yorkers to prepare for ongoing sustained winds upwards of 30mph with wind gusts in excess of 70mph. Most Succoth, especially in open areas or experiencing sustained gusts, are not built for such conditions.
The Rabbinical Council of America is distributing this document, developed by Rabbi Kenneth Brander with profound thanks to Rav Hershel Schachter, shlita for his guidance. The relevant portion of the document follows:
Sukkot, Shemeni Atzeret & Simchat HaTorah
- If the weather forecast is for winds of over 40 mph there is a serious danger that the sukkah will become flying debris which can create dangerous projectiles and should be dismantled before Shabbat/Yom Tov.
- If there is a concern of schach flying around (in winds that are less than 40 mph winds) then the schach can be tied down even with plastic cable ties.
- If schach needs to be replaced or tied down on the sukkah on Shabbat or Yom Tov in can be done by a Gentile.
- If there is concern about going to shul on Simchat Torah morning – Vezot ha’Berakha can be read on the night of Simchat Torah in five aliyot. Alternatively should the storm pass by Simchat Torah afternoon then hakafot and torah reading can be read at an early mincha on Simchat Torah.
Of course, individuals and organizations should consult with their appropriate halachic authorities. Some additional tips:
- Secure your Sukkah to fixed objects such as posts or fencing. Unsecured bamboo mats can become airborne, leading to injuries and property damage. Unsecured walls (either canvas or plywood) are essentially sails and could collapse and/or blow away. This is already happening in the Washington, DC area.
- Balconies. Succoth built on balconies on higher floors are subject to higher winds.
- There is a likelihood of blackouts during the storm. See the RCA document here for additional guidance. The source document with citations can be found here.
- Drying. If you do take down and secure your Sukkah over the next few days, the materials and skhakh are likely to be wet. To avoid mold, be sure to thoroughly dry everything after Sukkoth before you store it. (HT Dori Zofan).
Thanks to NYCEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito and Assistant Commissioner Ira Tannenbaum for their ongoing leadership and concern. Here is the NYCEM guidance:
The National Weather Service forecast for the next several days includes wind speeds that are predicted to be between 15 and 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 40 mph at times. High winds can down trees and power lines, blow out windows, blow down signs, cause flying debris, and structural collapse. Individuals who have constructed a Succah for the holiday should take appropriate actions to secure the structure and roofing to prevent damage or injury from flying debris.
Assistant Commissioner, Public/Private Initiatives
New York City Emergency Management
165 Cadman Plaza East
Brooklyn, NY 11201
New York City’s dense population and geographic location make it especially vulnerable to emergencies caused by natural and man-made hazards. While it is important for you to protect yourself and your families from emergencies, it is also important to protect your property. The hazards faced by Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester residents are similar, with some exceptions (e.g., Westchester planners are concerned with an Indian Point event).
The New York City Emergency Management Department, in partnership with the New York City Department of City Planning and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, is pleased to announce the launch of NYC’s Risk Landscape: A Guide to Hazard Mitigation. Based on the FEMA-approved and locally adopted 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan, NYC’s Risk Landscape focuses on a targeted group of hazards that pose a risk to the city, and includes information on how the City approaches risk management in a user-friendly and accessible format. Additionally, the guide includes informative maps, infographics, and images to help New Yorkers gain a deeper understanding of specific hazards as well as best practices in risk reduction. Hazards addressed in this guide include coastal erosion, coastal storms, earthquakes, extreme heat, flooding, pandemic influenza, strong windstorms, water shortage, and winter weather.
Did you know it’s National Severe Weather Preparedness Week?
In 2013, there were seven weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. These events included five severe weather and tornado events, a major flood event, and the western drought/heat wave. Overall, these events killed 109 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted.
Being prepared for severe weather doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. A few simple steps, such as having a disaster supplies kit, could help save your life.
Among the ruins left in #Sandy’s path are precious photographs and sacred books. The Library of Congress has a webpage here devoted to the immediate response actions that can be taken to save affected materials and prevent further damage, including:
- What to do if collections get wet
- A Primer on Disaster Preparedness, Management and Response: Paper-Based Materials, a collaboration of the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the National Park Service
- The Disaster Response and Recovery Webpage of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works
- Mould Outbreak — An Immediate Response by the Canadian Conservation Institute