New York officials call for coastal evacuation as nor’easter approaches
New storm expected to bring fresh flooding and snow to region that is still recovering from superstorm Sandy
New York officials are encouraging a partial evacuation of low-lying coastal regions on Tuesday, ahead of a nor’easter that is expected to bring fresh flooding and snow to a region that is still recovering from superstorm Sandy.
“The National Weather Service has put our city on a high-wind watch and coastal flood watch,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, in an update on recovery efforts in New York.
Cold weather continues to pose a risk to thousands of residents who are still without power after last week’s storm. Volunteers and officials will go door to door in an attempt to help elderly and vulnerable residents evacuate properties left uninhabitable by Sandy.
As many as 40,000 people could need resettlement, according to city officials. Bloomberg has said that adequate shelters are available and that police patrol cars will tour areas still cut off from power, using loudhailers to encourage residents to seek refuge.
The operation has been given added urgency by the approach of a new storm that is due to hit New York and neighbouring New Jersey on Wednesday. The nor’easter could dump wet snow on trees, raising the risk of downed power lines.
As of Tuesday, some 91,000 customers in New York City remained without electricity. With much of the blackout affecting coastal areas, it is feared that hypothermia could lead to more deaths; more than 100 deaths have been attributed to Sandy in the US.
At a press briefing on Tuesday, Bloomberg said that in the coming days the temperature was likely to fall to the mid-30s fahrenheit, but would feel more like the upper 20s due to wind chill factor. In addition, the mayor said, tidal surges of up to four-and-a-half feet could bring flooding to coastal areas.
Bloomberg said that in officials would urge people to leave a “handful of low lying areas”, but added that they were not ordering the mandatory evacuation of any zones.
In a separate briefing Tuesday, state governor Andrew Cuomo urged caution over the incoming storm.
“We live by the adage ‘prepare for the worst, hope for the best’,” he said. The governor also said that he believed periods of extreme weather were likely to become common in the coming years. “I have been governor less than two years and we have gone through two terrible storms already,” he said. “I think that is a symptom, I think these extreme weather patterns will continue.”
Cuomo also maintained pressure on utilities companies over their perceived slow response to fixing broken power lines.
He acknowledged that the number of homes in the state without electricity was “way down” on recent days, but said that the current situation was “still not OK”.
“I share New Yorkers frustration, I understand, we are not happy with the preparations or rate of recovery from the utilities companies,” he said. “I promise the people of this state that utilities companies will be held accountable.”