After the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy nearly two years ago, local elected officials and Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management Joe Esposito joined the mayor to discuss the necessity of emergency plans for all New Yorkers.
“Sandy taught us a lot, very painfully, in a very difficult way,” de Blasio said. “It is a reminder of a new reality we’re living with, the reality of climate change. The events that we used to consider extreme weather are becoming more common. We can’t act like they’re unexpected. We have to assume they’re coming and be ready.”
Both the mayor and Commissioner Esposito told residents and families that they needed to have a personal emergency plan and a packed to-go bag, including essentials like flashlights, batteries, non-perishable food and medications.
The mayor, along with Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and others, handed out “Go Bags” to NYCHA residents, filled with emergency supplies, to ensure they are prepared in case of an emergency evacuation.
“Prepare ahead of time, we cannot say that enough,” Esposito said.
He explained that after Sandy hit, the City reorganized its evacuation zones, growing from three to six zones that are used to delineate which residents must evacuate when an emergency hits.
“It’s important that you know your zone before the incident hits,” he said.
New Yorkers may visit nyc.gov/knowyourzone for information about evacuation zones and a guide for preparing a disaster plan.
The mayor held the press conference in Red Hook, holding up the community as an example of the great work that can be done when neighbors help each other in times of need.
He mentioned Red Hook Initiative, which was a hub for relief and rebuilding after Sandy, as a model community institution.
“[Red Hook] is a community that I really honor because in the midst of the challenges – there have been many challenges in Red Hook over the years — but people have kept fighting back,” de Blasio said. “They’ve taken real ownership in this community. Red Hook Initiative is a great example of that. And during Sandy people did amazing work helping each other. And it’s a community I think gets stronger all the time.”
Simone Moore, a resident of Red Hook for 35 years, said that she volunteered with many others after Sandy in order to get people flashlights, food and medications for the elderly. The community was out of power for nearly three weeks after the storm hit.
“It was a community effort,” Moore said. “We all pulled together.”
She said that now volunteers are being offered CPR classes, in order to be more prepared if another disaster occurs. She appreciates the mayor’s efforts, but she also said this kind of aid and preparation should have come a long time ago.
“Bloomberg should have been the one trying to do something when it originally happened,” she said. “But de Blasio coming in and trying to get this together is a good thing.”