Public Safety and Transportation

 

Hurricane Preparedness

Be prepared if a hurricane or tropical storm strikes our area.

A Message from the County Executive:

In Nassau County, we are making concerted efforts to ensure the safety and well being of you and your family in many different ways. As part of this effort, I am pleased to provide Nassau residents with this Hurricane Readiness brochure on how you and your loved ones may prepare for hurricanes. While the County does have hurricane preparedness plans, it is vital that each resident is educated on how to be prepared for and what to do should a hurricane strike. This guide will help get you started. Together, we can make Nassau County more prepared and a safer place to live.


Introduction

As Long Islanders, many of us may not feel threatened by hurricanes considering we survived Gloria, Floyd and others. However, given our location as an island left vulnerable to the Atlantic Ocean, Nassau County is very susceptible to the powerful and destructive nature of hurricanes. 

Long Island has been threatened by, and at times hit with, hurricanes. And while it is estimated that 80-90% of people living in hurricane prone areas think they have experienced the worst of a major hurricane, most likely they have not. This can give people a false sense of what a major hurricane actually is or the potential damage it can cause. This is why it is important for residents to understand what a hurricane is, how hurricanes can affect our lives, and ways to better prepare in the event one strikes our area.


Hurricanes 

According to the National Hurricane Center, the term “hurricane” refers to tropical cyclones occurring in the Northern Hemisphere (“typhoon” refers to tropical cyclones in the Pacific). A hurricane is described as a powerful coastal storm with sustained winds above 74 mph and is defined by its immense size, duration, and destruction. Hurricane season is from June to November. 
When there is an impending hurricane, the National Weather Service (NWS) will monitor the potential storm and keep local emergency managers updated. When necessary, the NWS may issue either a hurricane watch or a hurricane warning:

  • Hurricane Watch – Issued for coastal areas when hurricane conditions are threatening to hit within 24-36 hours
  • Hurricane Warning – Issued for coastal areas when hurricane conditions are threatened to hit within 24 hours or less

Destruction of Hurricanes

Hurricanes have many after-effects including severe destruction and can cause additional hazards including:

  • Wreckage from buildings and downed trees, which may cause obstructions. 
  • Severe flooding causing possible injury or death and property damage. Some homes may become destroyed or unlivable. 
  • Damaged transportation infrastructures causing roads and railroads to be impassable. Road signs and traffic lights may be down or not working making travel difficult.  
  • Businesses may take several days to reopen and utilities, including electricity, gas, water, and telephone service, may be inoperable for a while. 
  • You may have difficulty reaching police, fire, and emergency departments, doctors, pharmacies, veterinarians, homecare providers, and other health agencies. 

The level and intensity of Hurricanes are categorized by the Saffir-Simpson scale and are as follows:

Category Sustained Winds Types of Damage Due to Hurricane Winds
1 74-95 mph Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days. Flooding on coastal roads.
2 96-110 mph Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.
3
(major)
111-129 mph Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes. Evacuation of low lying residences within several blocks of the shoreline possibly required.
4
(major)
130-156 mph Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Evacuation of residential areas will be necessary. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
5
(major)
157 mph or higher Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Mass evacuation of residential areas will be necessary. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

A Quick History of Hurricanes on Long Island

The New England Hurricane (also known as the Long Island Express) hit Long Island on September 21, 1938 as a Category 3 (winds 111-129 mph) and devastated the coast of Long Island with storm surges of 10 to 12 feet and was responsible for, in total, 700 deaths, $308 million in damage, and 63,000 people homeless between Long Island and New England. The LI Express was so powerful that it created the Shinnecock Inlet and widened the Moriches Inlet in Suffolk County. 

The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 was a Category 3 (winds 111-129mph) 

Hurricanes Carol and Edna of 1954 were both Category 3 hurricanes when they hit Long Island and Connecticut. 

Hurricane Donna of 1960 started as a Category 4 and hit Nassau County as a Category 3 (winds 111-129mph). 

Hurricane Gloria of 1985 began as a Category 3 hurricane when it hit Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, but was considered a Category 1 (winds 74-95 mph) when it reached Nassau County. Gloria devastated the U.S., including serious damage to Nassau County.


Be Prepared Not Scared 

Although we cannot prevent hurricanes, we can certainly prepare for them. If you are prepared with food (items that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water) and water (1 gal. of water per person per day for at least 5 days), an emergency can be an inconvenience, not a disaster.

firstaidkitEveryone has a personal responsibility to be prepared. Creating an emergency plan ahead of time for you and your family will help you stay organized if a hurricane strikes. Your emergency plan should include a communication system, disaster supply kit, and an alternate meeting place if your home is unsafe. Depending on the severity of the hurricane, you may need to evacuate where you live. When instructions are given to evacuate, you will be directed to a temporary, emergency refuge that will provide a safe haven for the duration of the storm. However, it is recommended that you seek refuge with a friend or family member located away from the affected area. You’ll be more comfortable on a friend’s couch than on a cot in a shelter.


Emergency Go Kits 

What you have on hand when a hurricane hits can make a big difference to how well your family handles it. In the event of a hurricane WATCH or WARNING, put these items into a smaller, portable Go-Kit—such as a hands-free backpack or duffel bag— or a container, in case you need to evacuate. Keep it by your front door or an exit in case of an emergency evacuation. Each person should have a Go-Kit. Create your own disaster preparedness kits—one for home and one to go as a “Go Bag” in case you need to evacuate—with enough supplies for everyone in your household for FIVE (5) days.

Personal Go-Kit
Your family disaster preparedness kits should include:

  • First aid kit. Pack a “how to” guide as well.
  • Medications. Essential prescription, nonprescription items & medical information.
  • Battery-powered flashlight and radio (or crank radio), extra batteries and a 12-hour glow stick.
  • Clothing. A change of clothes, plus rainwear, sturdy shoes and protective gloves for everyone.
  • Personal items. Eye glasses, personal care items, & comfort items.
  • Important document copies in a waterproof container:
  • Drivers’ licenses
  • Wills
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Insurance policies
  • Proof of residence (deed or lease)
  • Recent tax returns
  • Credit card & bank account numbers
  • Social Security cards
  • Passport numbers
  • Home inventory list
  • Items for infants, elderly, pets or loved ones with special need

Pet Go-Kit

  • Your pet disaster preparedness kits should include:
  • Your pets’ names
  • Your name, address, phone and cell number
  • Emergency contact—friend or family
  • Your veterinarian’s name and contact information
  • Medical records and medications
  • Specific care instructions and behavioral problems
  • First aid kit
  • Current photos
  • Sturdy leash with collar or harness
  • Muzzles, if necessary
  • Paper towels for clean-up
  • Food (3 days supply) & manual can opener
  • Bottled water and water purification tablets
  • Bowls, toys and other comfort items
  • Treats, brushes, combs
  • Newspapers and plastic trash bags for handling waste
  • Also have on hand, ready to go:
    • Secure carriers large enough for your pets to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down
    • Towels or blankets for bedding and warmth
    • Cat litter and litter box

For more information, visit the Nassau County Pet Safe Coalition website petsafecoalition.org 


Emergency Notification System

A common concern from residents in the County is “How will I know when I need to evacuate?” To answer that question, Nassau County has installed an Emergency Notification System that will allow the County to call the home phones of residents in an effected area within a very short time. The county will be able to call any landline telephone within a given area and send a recorded message with instructions. The system will be able to make 3,000 phone calls per minute. Working in conjunction with the State’s NY ALERT program, Nassau County also has the ability to get the same message to all cell phones in the same area. It is important that if you have caller ID and see a call from “Nassau County” that you answer the call to get timely information.


Protecting Pets and Animals

Pets are not allowed in shelters. Be sure to make sheltering plans for your pet(s). If you cannot make necessary provisions for your pet, you may want to contact the Pet Safe Coalition Inc. to learn about its “PetSafe” shelter program by visiting petsafecoalition.org. You may also contact the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management at 516.573.0636 for guidance. Service animals are allowed in Nassau County shelters. If you bring your service animal with you, have water, food, medicines, toys and other necessities.


Special Needs

If you have any special needs, be sure to take them into consideration when developing your emergency plan for hurricanes. For more information, contact Nassau County Office of Emergency Management and request the brochure on Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities. 


Work and School

Every workplace and school should have an evacuation plan and emergency procedures. Become familiar with evacuation plans in areas where you spend a great deal of time. You may want to store a few essential items at these locations as well. 

Adelphi University Emergency Response Plan can be viewed at administration.adelphi.edu/publicsafety 


Nassau County Contact Information

Remember: 911 Calls Are For Emergency Situations Only 

TTY Relay Operator
800.421.1220

Nassau County Office of Emergency Management
516.573.0636

Nassau County Office of Emergency Management email
NCOEM@nassaucountyny.gov

Nassau County Main Number
516.571.3000

Nassau County American Red Cross
516.747.3500

Nassau County Police
516.573.7000

Town of North Hempstead
516.627.0590

Town of Hempstead
516.489.5000

Town of Oyster Bay
516.677.5757

City of Glen Cove
516.676.2000

Glen Cove Police Department
516.676.1000

City of Long Beach
516.431.1000

City of Long Beach Police Department
516.431.1800


Additional Web Resources

Government/Agency

Nassau County

New York State Emergency Management Office

Health and Welfare Council of Long Island

American Red Cross

Federal Emergency Management Agency

National Organization on Disability’s Emergency Preparedness Initiative

Weather Related

National Weather Service

National Hurricane Center

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
 
 
 
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