Governor Cuomo Convenes Emergency Cabinet Meeting Regarding Hurricane Irene
Governor Continues Deployment of State Resources for Emergency Storm Assistance
August 26, 2011 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today convened an emergency session of his Cabinet to review plans to protect New Yorkers and mitigate the potential effects of Hurricane Irene. The Governor is continuing to coordinate the state government-wide mobilization of resources to prepare for the storm.
On Governor Cuomo's orders, the following actions are being implemented immediately:
- The New York Army and Air National Guard will deploy up to 900 soldiers and airmen and over 100 vehicles to support civil authorities; those troops have already begun to report
- The Metropolitan Transit Authority will institute a system-wide shut-down when trains and buses begin their final runs starting at approximately noon on Saturday; the shut-down will include subways, buses, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, and Access-A-Ride
- If sustained wind speeds exceed 60 mph, all of the following bridges will be closed to all traffic: George Washington Bridge, Tappan Zee bridge, all bridges operated by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, and the following Hudson River bridges: Bear Mountain Bridge, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson (Poughkeepsie), Kingston-Rhinecliff, and Rip Van Winkle (Catskill)
- The New York State Thruway and possibly other major highways will also be closed if sustained wind speeds exceed 60 mph; further closings will be announced as the storm progresses
- LIPA will have 2,500 line workers and tree trim personnel available throughout the weekend for emergency repair work, its largest emergency roster ever
- 175 extra ambulances and personnel will be deployed in regions expected to be hit the hardest by the storm
"We have moved quickly to initiate our emergency plans, to work with our federal and local partners, and to identify, prepare, and put into place one of the most aggressive activations of New York State government ever assembled in the face of a possible natural disaster," Governor Cuomo said. "We are fully committed and we are preparing for the worst."
Specific plans include:
Office of Emergency Management: OEM is working with the National Weather Service to track the storm and coordinate resources. The state's Emergency Operations Center in Albany has been activated since Wednesday and staffed around the clock. Senior OEM management is being deployed to the anticipated problem areas downstate to improve coordination with local government response. Command vehicles have been deployed to Nassau and Suffolk counties and OEM will make additional deployments of personnel and resources as needed.
Division of Military and Naval Affairs: The New York Army and Air National Guard will mobilize and deploy approximately 900 soldiers and airmen and over 100 vehicles on Saturday to support civil authorities on Long Island, New York City, and the Hudson Valley as directed by the Governor.
The plan the National Guard is executing at the direction of Governor Cuomo calls for:
230 soldiers and airmen will be stationed with high-axle vehicles and high-tech satellite communications equipment at the Farmingdale Armed Forces Reserve Center by Saturday evening. These troops will remain in place at the center to ride out the storm and then immediately respond to aid civil authorities as directed. This task force will include 120 military police soldiers from the 206th Military Police Company in Latham; 50 transportation soldiers from the 1427 Medium Truck Company in Queensbury; 30 Air National Guard civil engineers from the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia; 10 soldiers assigned to the Signal Detachment at Joint Forces Headquarters in Latham who will operate high-tech satellite communications equipment known as the JISCC (Joint Incident Site Communications Capability); 20 military police soldiers from the 102nd Military Police Battalion in Auburn, who will be equipped with Humvees and high-axle military trucks from around the state that can traverse flooded areas.
Approximately 290 soldiers will be stationed at Camp Smith near Peekskill and will be prepared to move to Long Island after the storm passes over and transportation routes are reopened. This task force will include 45 military police soldiers from the 102nd Military Police Battalion in Auburn; 65 military police soldiers from the 222nd Military Police Company in Auburn; 60 transportation soldiers from the 1569th Transportation Company in New Windsor; 120 Air National Guardsmen from three Air National Guard Wings.
225 soldiers will be placed on duty to augment the National Guard's Joint Task Force Empire Shield in New York City, or to assist local governments in the lower Hudson Valley. These soldiers will be based at the Harlem Armory in New York City and Camp Smith near Peekskill. This task force will include 75 soldiers from C Company, 1st Battalion 69th Infantry headquartered at Camp Smith; 75 members of the New York Air National Guard from bases across the state; 75 soldiers from the 369th Support Brigade in New York City.
140 soldiers and airmen will be on duty in Latham, Camp Smith, and other locations to provide logistical support and command and control for the National Guard Task Force.
Additionally, a total of 12,466 airmen and soldiers, more than 680 vehicles, 16 Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, 4 Ch-47 Chinook helicopters, 10 C-130 cargo aircraft, and 6 HH-60 Pavehawk rescue helicopters are ready to respond if called upon for assistance, surveillance, search and rescue, and post-storm damage assessment.
Division of State Police: The State Police have approximately 600 troopers statewide that could respond to Troop L (Farmingdale), Troop K (Poughkeepsie), and Troop F (Middletown), as needed. Aviation staging will occur at Stewart Airport and aircraft from upstate have been moved to prepare to deploy in the storm area. The State Police have helicopters and airboats available for immediate response. SCUBA teams will be deployed as missions require. Troop Emergency Management personnel are working closely with County Emergency Managers and local police. State Police Aviation assets are on standby.
The State Police will maintain its presence in all other areas of New York State.
Department of Correctional Services: The Department operates facilities located within the hurricane's projected path in New York City. There are no correctional facilities located in Nassau or Suffolk counties. All of the correctional facilities have been equipped with proper generators, water storage tanks, and sufficient supplies of food to last well beyond the storm's duration.
Fire Prevention and Control: The State Fire Mobilization and Mutual Aid Plan has been activated. Staff is being deployed to Long Island, New York City, and the Southern Hudson Valley, as well as the State Emergency Operations Center. The Fire Operations Center is operating 24 hours a day.
Thruway Authority: Severity of winds will be constantly monitored and when sustained wind speeds exceed 45 mph, tandem, commercial, and large vehicles will be prohibited on the Thruway and on the Tappan Zee Bridge. If sustained wind speeds exceed 60 mph, all traffic will be prohibited on the Thruway and Tappan Zee Bridge because of the effect on driver vehicle control. Maintenance personnel are performing inspection and cleaning of drainage systems to minimize flooding and pooling. Debris removal equipment, including chainsaws, chippers, loaders, and trucks, are being prepared for use. Equipment will be pre-deployed today based on the forecasted track of the hurricane. Emergency generators at Authority facilities and travel plazas have been fueled and tested. Fuel tanks at highway maintenance sections and travel plazas will be filled to insure adequate supplies for response forces and the public. Traffic control devices are being pre-deployed.
Bridge Authority: The Authority is conducting constant monitoring of wind conditions at its six bridges. The Authority has extra staff to monitor wind conditions and to respond to emergency situations. Particularly vulnerable are empty box trucks and trailers, which should avoid all bridges during a high wind storm. The Authority will issue a wind advisory at 30 mph and restrict box trucks, tractor trailers, and other high profile vehicles at 40 mph. Notification to the traveling public urging them to stay off the roads or to find alternative routes will begin immediately.
If sustained wind speeds exceed 60 mph, all of the following bridges will be closed to all traffic: George Washington Bridge, Tappan Zee bridge, all bridges operated by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, and the following Hudson River bridges: Bear Mountain Bridge, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson (Poughkeepsie), Kingston-Rhinecliff, and Rip Van Winkle (Catskill).
The pedestrian "Walkway Over the Hudson" park in Poughkeepsie will be closed by 5:00 pm on Friday and will not reopen until after the Authority's Chief Engineer has had an opportunity to inspect the structure.
Department of Transportation: DOT has begun preventive maintenance and debris removal and is distributing flood control equipment. Equipment in active work zones is being secured, additional erosion protection is being addressed as necessary, barges are secured, and plans for post-storm clean-up are being developed. DOT will have 450 staff, more than 75 dump trucks, and dozens of other equipment and vehicles assigned to the storm effort, much of it marshaled on Long Island. DOT will relocate its construction barges to Coast Guard-approved locations and is stockpiling portable signs, barricades, light towers, arrow boards, and portable VMS signs for delivery to storm-hit areas. Maintenance crews will be available for weekend callouts to ensure that state highway lanes are open to traffic and to keep roads clear for emergency vehicles.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority: The MTA will institute a system-wide shut-down when trains and buses begin their final runs starting at approximately noon on Saturday in the interest of public safety and to ensure that the system can be operational for use after the storm. The shut-down will include subways, buses, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, and Access-A-Ride.
The MTA will continue to focus on providing whatever service can be maintained safely and on preserving lines, equipment, and other resources so that the system can recover from the storm as quickly as possible. More than 1,370 managerial, supervisory, and hourly employees have been called in to supplement the MTA's usual weekend staffing levels. Approximately 200 subway trains, 3,321 buses, and 100 Access-a-Ride vehicles are being moved from low-lying storage locations. 10 subway emergency dispatch vehicles equipped with chainsaws and special tools are staffed and standing by throughout the weekend and 7 extra bus tow trucks will be in service. 26 pieces of heavy track maintenance equipment and their personnel are on duty. 8 emergency generators are on standby for deployment for subway station lighting or power failures. The Bridges and Tunnels Division has an additional 15 standby generators fueled and ready for use. The Subways Division has inspected 72 critical subway pump rooms, 17 track pumps, track drains in 16 flood-prone areas, 34 direct sewer connections, and sump pumps at 216 substations. The Bridges and Tunnels Division has examined and cleared more than 3,500 roadway drains and scuppers and 56 pumps at the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. The LIRR is equipping 17 work engines with emergency equipment, 44 diesel and dual mode engines with couplers, and checking generators and equipment in 14 electric yards and 7 diesel yards.
Port Authority of New York & New Jersey: The PA has more than 200 heavy-duty vehicles available at its 5 airports to deploy as needed, plus dozens of police vehicles, including mobile command centers and heavy-duty rescue equipment. More than 1,000 staff and contractors are available to assist customers as needed in every area of airport operations. The PA has hundreds of cases of bottled water, diapers, cots, blankets, and pillows available to provide to stranded passengers if necessary. The PA has dozens of airport shuttle buses that can assist in the movement of passengers if needed. At least one food vendor in every terminal will remain open 24 hours so that food is available at any time. The PA will also deploy Central Office staff throughout the terminals during overnights when passengers are stranded to monitor conditions and provide whatever assistance may be needed, such as finding hotel rooms or ground transportation.
Department of Health: DOH is receiving 175 ambulances from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Of the 175 ambulances, 50 (40 Basic Life Support and 10 Advanced Life Support) are being turned over to Fire Department of New York City. The remaining 125 ambulances will be deployed as necessary throughout the region. DOH is coordinating with all hospitals and healthcare facilities in the areas with the most potential for evacuation. DOH advised facilities to implement emergency response plans and work with local emergency management and response partners.
Office of Mental Health: Starting Friday, all 327 patients and staff at the South Beach Psychiatric Center in Staten Island will be evacuated to the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens. The medically fragile and secure unit will be the first moved with their staff. OMH staff will be at Creedmoor to accept the patients into the cleared units. Records will move with patients. Family members of all patients have been contacted. 10 youth patients will be moved to the Queens Children's Psychiatric Center. The co-located Alcohol Treatment Program is going to Kingsboro Psychiatric Center and the co-located Office for People With Developmental Disabilities program is moving to the Connelly Center of the Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Services Office. OMH is working with New York City officials to secure transportation. All OMH facilities are reviewing their emergency management plans with special attention to their evacuation plans and are stocking necessary resources for the storm's duration.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Department of Environmental Conservation: All DEC conservation officers and forest rangers – approximately 200 in total – will be mobilized for duty during the storm and are prepared to deploy 5 ranger airboats normally stationed upstate. The law enforcement and rescue boats – totaling 32 in various sizes and capabilities – are already deployed throughout Long Island, New York City and the Hudson Valley. DEC will establish an Incident Command Team to maintain situation awareness of all resources and personnel. DEC Spills Response Unit is preparing to respond to petroleum and chemical spills. Water engineers have notified waste water treatment plants to prepare for flooding and loss of electricity. Adirondack Park and Catskill Preserve Campgrounds will be closed and evacuated by noon on Saturday. DEC advises everyone to stay off the trails in the Adirondack Park and Catskill Preserve. DEC has preemptively closed areas to shellfish harvest due to the storm's possible impact on water treatment facilities.
Public Service Commission: The PSC is monitoring implementation of the utilities' emergency plans for electric, natural gas, steam, water and telecommunications services. The PSC has activated its toll-free call center – 1-800-342-3377 – to assist customers this weekend and has provided staff to support the state's Emergency Operations Center. The PSC is focusing on deployment of utility crews to respond to storm conditions.
Utility crews are also on their way to New York from Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois to provide additional assistance.
New York Power Authority & Long Island Power Authority:
NYPA is in the process of repositioning 3 transmission crews – each crew has between 5-7 workers – as well as trucks and equipment from the Massena and Utica areas closer to Long Island and New York City. These workers specialize in high- and medium-voltage transmission lines and could also be made available to assist with any needs with low-voltage distribution lines. NYPA is readying over 100 staffers for any technical support needed by LIPA and other utilities, including project managers, construction managers, and engineers. NYPA will open its Emergency Command Center at its headquarters in White Plains on Saturday to closely monitor the storm's impact on NYPA facilities and to continue to assist LIPA and National Grid and Con Ed.
LIPA is closely coordinating with National Grid to ensure it is fully prepared on Long Island. NYPA is monitoring the effects of storms on power generation capacity. LIPA anticipates 2,500 line workers and tree trim personnel will be available throughout the weekend for emergency repair work – its largest emergency roster ever – relying on arrangements for mutual aid crews from other utilities as the storm passes and on contract crews from as far away as Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Mississippi. NYPA is making additional two man crews of 10-14 lineman available to LIPA, making a total of 5 crews available including about 30-35 lineman. Transmission crews are being repositioned. Environmental health and safety engineers as well as other technical staff are already located downstate. The transmission crews will total approximately 15-20 high- and medium-voltage transmission line operators. Over 100 engineers, construction managers, and project managers are being made available to assist LIPA and the utilities. LIPA has secured 950 on-island electric and tree removal contractors and 1,200 off-island personnel.
Office of Parks, Recreation & Historical Preservation: Staff is preparing emergency equipment, proactively lowering lake levels at park facilities with dams, and coordinating with the National Weather Service. All camping reservations at Wildwood and Hither Hills (Long Island) for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday arrivals, as well as Palisades (Rockland, Orange, and Ulster) and Taconic (Putnam, Dutchess, and Columbia) regions have been cancelled. Any campers remaining in the campgrounds as of Saturday evening will be evacuated. LIPA will be staging vehicles and equipment at Belmont Lake State Park (Long Island) beginning Saturday morning.
Office of General Services: The Capitol Roof and all other construction projects will be secured by the close of business Friday. Emergency construction contractors are on alert and OGS staff is on call to be deployed to any state property that experiences damage. OGS has hired 30 part-time civil engineers to assist the state Office of Emergency Management with post-hurricane damage assessments.