OEM: Intensity Used To Be Main Concern, But Now Storms To Be Broken Down

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As a result of Hurricane Sandy, New York City is still fine tuning what its response will be should another monster storm strike the region.

Nearly 3 million homes are now in evacuation zones — under new flood maps released Tuesday, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported.

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Gerritsen Beach, on the south end of Brooklyn, has just been kicked up a notch on the city’s flood map. This neighborhood used to be in Zone B.

“It’s devastating,” one woman said, adding that she wasn’t surprised her community is now in Zone 1.

The city has put this area among the first in the city for evacuation from a storm surge. Sandy, however, changed everything.

“We never got flooded like that before,” resident Roger Galli said.

The city has revised its evacuation maps, with more zones, 1-6. Those zones include an additional 600,000 New Yorkers or a 37-percent increase over those who were in the former Zones listed as A, B and C. So now, each zone is more refined.

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Zone 1 has 290,000 people.  Zone 2 has 540,000. Officials said the refinement is all important.

“You want to avoid over evacuation and under evacuation. You don’t want people to have to evacuate if it’s not necessary. We’re looking at storms differently,” Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Bruno said.

Before, the concern for a storm was primarily its intensity. Now, officials account for larger and slower moving storms, as well as the track of the storm and the surge at high tide. And, of course, taken into account is an area’s elevation.

The key for flood-prone New Yorkers is to know which zone you’re in and be prepared if the zone you’re in is evacuated, Slattery reported.

In the city’s history, a mandatory evacuation has been ordered only twice — Hurricane Sandy in October and Hurricane Irene in 2011.

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