The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for August 26th, 2011

…hits the fan

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Council Member Van Bramer sent this out to his mailing list today, regarding Hurricane Irene

As everyone knows by now, Hurricane Irene is expected to hit our area sometime Saturday into Sunday. We should all take precautions to be prepared for a storm of this magnitude. Some areas in our district are in evacuation zones and at high risk for flooding. Those areas of Hunters Point/Long Island City should familiarize themselves with the map below and know that should an evacuation be ordered, Newcomers High School (28-01 41st Ave.), Aviation High School (45-30 36th St.) and W.C. Bryant High School (48-10 31st Ave.) are your nearest evacuation centers. The City will make a decision about whether to order a mandatory evacuation of Zone A for the general public by 8:00 AM on Saturday. The evacuation centers will be open as of 5:00 PM today and the City is strongly recommending that people within these areas immediately make plans to go to alternative locations outside of Zone A starting tomorrow for the duration of the storm. The orange areas are Zone A. The yellow areas are Zone B. The green areas are Zone C.

We are also concerned about significant portions of the district including parts of Sunnyside, Woodside, Astoria and Maspeth that have experienced flooding during several recent storms. Our office has been and will continue to be in contact with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and other city agencies throughout this weekend. Anyone experiencing difficulties as a result of Hurricane Irene should contact me and my office as soon as they occur. We will report problems in real time. For those outside of Zone A areas that have experienced flooding or are concerned that you may, please click on the link below on how to protect your valuables. In addition to calling our office, DEP is asking for reports of flooding to be called in to 311.

I have also been in touch today with NYCHA and the Mayor’s Office to make certain that Queensbridge, Ravenswood, and the Woodside Houses are included in any and all emergency plans including evacuation, should that be necessary. We will continue to be in regular contact with NYCHA throughout the storm.

While we continue to hope for the best, we must prepare for the worst. The city has published some useful information in securing your home during the storm. Please click on the link below for recommendations on how best to prepare for the hurricane.

Given the high volume of traffic to OEM’s (Office of Emergency Management) website there have been delays and interruptions in gaining access to some of these links. For that reason, we also include the Red Cross’ Hurricane Safety Checklist below. We have also included information from OEM’s Hurricane Guide at the end of this email should that link not respond when you try it.

In advance of the hurricane I wanted to remind you that clogged catch basin grates can aggravate flooding.  Although DEP staff – with the help of their colleagues at other agencies – are busy cleaning catch basins now, DEP has asked us to remind homeowners and residents that they welcome assistance in removing leaves, litter or other debris that may prevent water from flowing off the streets and into the catch basins.  For any of you that aren’t familiar with catch basins the attached link to a page on DEP’s website has some text and visuals that will help explain why flooding occurs and how citizens can help DEP minimize flooding by removing debris where they see it blocking catch basin grates.

I will be keeping my district office open on Saturday to field questions and concerns from constituents. Needless to say, we will close the office when the storm approaches and will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. My district office number is (718) 383-9566. I will be in the district throughout the storm and encourage anyone with problems to email me concerns at as well as using social media including Facebook ( and Twitter ( to reach me. You may also call 311. Please only call 911 if you have a very serious or life threatening emergency.

I hope this update and the attached information proves useful to you. Again, my staff and I will be working throughout the weekend and please do not hesitate to contact me should you need assistance.


Jimmy Van Bramer

Council Member

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally, the Council Member included the following information from the Office of Emergency Management

OEM’s Hurricane Guide

To secure your home if a tropical storm or hurricane watch is issued:

Bring inside loose, lightweight objects, such as lawn furniture, garbage cans, and toys.

Anchor objects that will be unsafe to bring inside, like gas grills or propane tanks. Turn off propane tanks.

Shutter windows securely and brace outside doors.

Place valuables in waterproof containers or plastic bags.

Help Others Prepare

  • Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors, especially those with disabilities or special needs, and assist them with their preparation and evacuation.
  • If you live outside an evacuation zone, offer to shelter family and friends who may need to evacuate.

If Asked to Evacuate, Do So Immediately

The City will communicate specific instructions about which areas of the city should evacuate through local media. If the City Issues an Evacuation Order for Your Area: Evacuate immediately. Use public transportation if possible.

If you are going to an evacuation center, pack lightly, and bring:

  • Your Go Bag
  • Sleeping bag or bedding
  • Required medical supplies or equipment
  • Let friends or relatives know where you are going.

What about my pets?

  • Make sure your disaster plan addresses what you will do with your pet if a hurricane requires you to leave your home.
  • Plan to shelter your pet at a kennel or with friends or relatives outside the evacuation area.
  • Be sure you have supplies ready for your pet in the event of an evacuation, including food, a leash, a muzzle, proof of shots, and a cage or carrier.

Account for your special needs

  • Consider your capabilities and make sure your preparedness plan addresses how your special needs affect your ability to evacuate and shelter.
  • Determine if you will need assistance and arrange help from friends, family, or neighbors.
  • Consider additional supplies and equipment that you may need to bring with you, such as medicine, icepacks, medical devices, and backup equipment. Bring food for your dietary needs.
  • Include additional time and evaluate your transportation options.


Prepare A Disaster Plan

Develop a plan with your household members that outlines what to do, how to find each other, and how to communicate if a hurricane strikes New York. If you rent your home, renter’s insurance will insure the items inside your apartment. If you are a homeowner, make sure your home is properly insured — flood and wind damage are not covered in a basic homeowner’s policy.

Know Where You Will Go

The City strongly recommends evacuees stay with friends or family who live outside evacuation zone boundaries. For those who have no other shelter, the City will open hurricane shelters throughout the five boroughs.

To ensure efficient use of resources, the City will ask all evacuees to report to an evacuation center. Once at the evacuation center, evacuees will either be assigned to a hurricane shelter in the same facility or transported to an associated hurricane shelter by bus.

Every household member should have a small Go Bag — a collection of items you may need during an evacuation packed in an easy-to-carry container such as a backpack. A Go Bag should be easily accessible if you have to leave your home in a hurry.

Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit

You may be instructed to shelter in place (stay at home) during a hurricane. Keep enough supplies in your home to survive for at least three days.

If you do not live in an evacuation zone

All areas of the city could face hurricane-related hazards such as high winds, flooding, tornadoes, and loss of utilities. You may be instructed to shelter in place (stay at home) for several days until the hurricane passes.

If you live in a high-rise apartment building

Residents of high-rise apartment buildings may face special risks from hurricanes even if they live outside evacuation zone boundaries. If you live in a high-rise building outside an evacuation zone, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor. If you live in a high-rise building located in an evacuation zone, heed evacuation orders.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This looks like it will be a profound event. Personally, I’m preparing for an uncomfortable few days, but that’s because I live inland and uphill in Astoria. Long Island City and Greenpoint on the other hand…

Our friends at have prepared an excellent posting on the Zone A situation, which can accessed here:

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek Alliance, an organization of which I’m a member, issued this statement earlier today…

Flood Warning for Creek Neighborhoods

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on August 25th, 2011 that certain emergency measures will be instituted in low lying coastal districts referred to as “Zone A” (at high risk of coastal flooding) due to the expected arrival of Hurricane Irene in the New York City area late Saturday night. Much of the land surrounding Newtown Creek is designated as “Zone A” on the coastal flooding map prepared by City officials, including large tracts of Greenpoint and Long Island City. For a map of the affected areas, please click here.

Newtown Creek Alliance cautions residents of the affected areas to monitor the situation and be prepared to evacuate should authorities warrant it necessary. If an evacuation is recommended or ordered, information about evacuation centers and hurricane shelters may be found by calling 311 or at by visiting this website. Additionally, be mindful that during such an event, the flood waters could carry a significant load of pollutants and should not be ingested. Care should be taken upon any contact with skin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sources within the City have discussed this storm with me in the most dire tones. If you live in an area designated for evacuation, please comply. I’ll be marching out into the brave new aftermath early Monday morning, if there’s something which you think I should point my camera at, please contact me here. Good luck, and assuming the availability of both electrical power and internet connectivity, I’ll post as the situation develops.

As this post was being prepared, Council Member Van Bramer passed along another message, ordering the mandatory evacuation of Zone A by 5 pm Saturday.

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