Do we know when the next hurricane, flood, or heat wave will occur? No. Do we know that one will happen eventually? Yes. Despite this certainty, it’s all too easy to continue thinking “it can’t happen to me” and remain in a state of blissful denial. Yet, experience has shown that emergency planning is a low-cost way to prevent a natural disaster from turning into a citywide emergency. By having a plan to take quick action before and after an event, the people who operate buildings (as well as the people who live and work in them) can protect the building from wind and flood damage, prevent mold, get the power back on, and even save lives.
Recognizing this need, the City Council passed Introduction 1085-A minutes ago. This bill requires the Office of Emergency Management to coordinate with other agencies (including Department of Buildings, Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and the Fire Department) to develop guidelines for residential and commercial buildings to prepare for weather emergencies and extended utility outages. These recommendations can then be used by building owners and residents to get ready for events that are unfortunate but inevitable.
The bill doesn’t stop there. It also directs residential building owners to post temporary signs in common areas with emergency preparedness information, including hurricane zones, important government and building contacts, and what services will be provided during an extended power outage. The signs can follow a template the city will publish, and will be posted before the expected arrival of a storm, or after the owner is informed of a utility outage that is expected to last over 24 hours.
The City Council also passed three other bills that implement recommendations of the NYC Building Resiliency Task Force, which Urban Green convened and managed for the city:
BRTF 3 – Relocate & Protect Building Systems (Int. 1096-A)
BRTF 4 – Remove Barriers to Elevating Buildings & Building Systems (Int. 1089-A)
BRTF 11 – Prevent Wind Damage to Existing Buildings (Int. 1099-A)
During and after Superstorm Sandy, inexpensive preparations like stacking sandbags and removing furniture from rooftops and balconies during high winds kept some buildings operating while others were forced to close. But emergency planning is not hard to do, and so its benefits should be enjoyed by all.
You can read more about Urban Green’s past event on Emergency Operating Procedures on our blog, and see the latest status on the Task Force recommendations and read summaries of new laws on our tracker.