11:29pm I started working on this a couple of hours ago, as my mom and I were talking about evacuation plans in NYC and what I needed to be responsible for making sure we had together in the house while she's at work. There's a lot of information, and some of it is contradictory, some of it is confusing. I've tried to assemble and assess the best of what's out there, and put together a handy-dandy guide in case anyone I love is running around trying to get information from the hundreds of sites that are trying to give information to us. My mom doesn't know I'm writing this; don't hold her liable. And of course, everyone should use their own judgment and pay attention to the specific warnings and instructions given for their areas. I'm giving a bit more NYC-specific info because, well, I live here and I'm compulsive about projects once I start them.
8:40pm Okay, so all of Cape May County in NJ has been evacuated (that's 750k residents), and 5 hospitals in NYC are beginning evacuation with a deadline to be cleared of patients by 8pm tomorrow. In NC, Hyde County has been evacuated already.
I'm imagining that folks in the Carolinas (Hurricane Irene is hitting there first, right?) have their information, but generally speaking you can find information about preparing for a hurricane here. I suggest looking at local news sites to learn more about whether evacuations are happening in your area. cnn.com has Open Story: Hurricane Irene, which may be a good place to look if you have no idea where else to start.
If you are in NYC, Mayor Mike has issued this statement about preparations in the area.
Also important in the city is the map of evacuation zones and evacuation centers. Mayor Mike says the evac order decision will be made by 8am Saturday.
La Mamacita is going to be at the Office of Emergency Management command center all weekend—she expects to be leaving for work in the morning and not coming home until the end of the storm (though technically they'll be on 12-hour shifts, she doesn't think she'll be able to get between the command center and our home safely).
If you live in Zone A, find somewhere to go that's not an evac center, just in case. Please. Those places will NOT be conducive to anyone's mental health. Tell your neighbors. If you can get further inland, please do. I think all of you are well-enough connected to find places to stay in the city, but if not, email or text me. Same for LI; I'm not sure where all of you live out there, but please, please PLEASE stay safe.
NYC Evac centers open at 4pm tomorrow, though NYC's coastal homes won't be in "danger" until Saturday evening, it looks like.
If you might need to evacuate, ( make sure your Go Bag is packed now, before you need to get out. )
Don't wait until the last minute to evacuate. Don't think you're going to be safe driving over a bridge, or through a tunnel, if there is a hurricane.
( And this is what you should keep at home, even if you're not evacuating )
As for cell phones: during regional emergencies it's a bitch and a half to get through to anyone. If you need to check in with loved ones and all of you have cell phones, for heaven's sake, text them instead. This will be less frustrating, take less time, and (most importantly) keep the waves free for emergency calls to get through to 911.
Use 911 only if there's an emergency in which life or limb is endangered. Call 311 about the downed tree on your street unless it's collapsed on a human.
If you're in a high-rise, you might need to evacuate even if you're outside the flood zones. NYC officials are recommending that folks pay attention to evacuation orders for their buildings. It may be that folks housed above the 10th floor will need to be evacuated to lower floors of their buildings. Pay attention to local announcements.
On Twitter, NYC information can be followed by following these:
@NotifyNYC (NYC OEM)
This post will not be F-Locked (as soon as I've got it posted), so be careful what you say in the comments, okay friends? Keep it on-topic. I'm leaving it open so I can refer friends on Twitter here.
And everybody, stay safe. I'm almost certainly being overly dramatic about this, but hey, it's how I am sometimes.