Storm Expected to be Near or At Hurricane Strength When It Makes Landfall Sunday. Main Threats From Storm Will Be Dangerous Surge, Heavy Rain, Strong Winds, Power Outages. State Emergency Operations and Fire Operations Centers Activated to Coordinate Requests for Assistance
Governor Cuomo today declared a State of Emergency for Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan, Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Broome, Chenango, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Albany, Montgomery, Schenectady, Saratoga, and contiguous counties as Hurricane Henri threatens to make landfall in Long Island on Sunday. The storm, which is expected to be near hurricane strength when it makes landfall, is forecast to affect coastal areas with dangerous storm surge, as well as heavy rainfall, dangerous surf conditions and widespread power outages. Inland locations, including Westchester County and Upstate areas, could also be affected with heavy rainfall and strong winds.
Governor Cuomo is also requesting President Biden declare a pre-landfall emergency declaration. This federal declaration authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance to New Yorkers, in the aftermath of Henri and its impacts. The declaration provides assistance for measures taken to save lives, protect property, and address public health and safety issues.
"New Yorkers are no strangers to the damage that is possible after dealing with a hurricane - we experienced it with Superstorm Sandy and Henri is set to be that level of storm," Governor Cuomo said. "We were given less notice to prepare for Henri because of shifting models, and while there is still time for the storm to shift again, I encourage New Yorkers to take this seriously. Plan for power outages, stock up on necessary supplies and avoid flooding areas. The state is deploying resources and we will do everything we can to ensure damage is minimal and the people of this state stay safe."
The Governor's declaration of a state of emergency ensures resources which are assigned for State use only are provided to local governments to help protect citizens and infrastructure. It also suspends regulations which would impede a rapid and effective response during an emergency or disaster.
Governor Cuomo activated 500 National Guard troops for deployment to Long Island and the Hudson Valley region to help localities with storm response efforts, including 11 high axle trucks and 14 military Humvees.
The New York State Emergency Operations Center will be activated on Sunday morning with staff from multiple State agencies coordinating emergency response activities throughout the duration of the weather event and its aftermath. The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Office of Fire Prevention and Control also activated its Fire Operations Center to coordinate requests for assistance and deployment of fire service assets via the State Fire Mobilization and Mutual Aid Plan.
Governor Cuomo also urged outdoor enthusiasts in the lower Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island regions to use caution this weekend and strongly reconsider visiting state parks and beaches with the approach of Hurricane Henri.
OFPC and State agencies, including Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Police, and Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation are preparing to deploy water rescue teams to the Hudson Valley. New York Task Force-2, a water rescue capable Urban Search and Rescue team, is also being deployed to Long Island in advance of Hurricane Henri.
The State Department of Transportation is prepared to respond with more than 3,200 supervisors and operators available statewide. To support storm response activities in critical areas, three signal bucket trucks, one vacuum truck with sewer jet, four loader-grapple attachments, and four chippers are being deployed to Long Island. 60 out-of-region traffic signal crew members will also be deployed to Long Island on Saturday.
A total of 125 generators with extended fuel capabilities are being deployed to the Mid-Hudson region and Long Island to bolster existing inventories. The need for additional resource deployments will be continually evaluated throughout the event.
Currently, regional crews are engaged in rain/flood/tree debris response preparations, including:
* Drainage inlets, culverts and other drainage structures are being inspected and cleared of accumulated debris. Inspections will continue throughout the event.
* Routine patrols will be conducted to maintain awareness of general conditions.
* Flood/debris response tools (generators, pumps, chainsaws, light plants, chippers, grapples, hand tools, etc.) are being readied for immediate dispatch.
All available rain/flood/wind response equipment is ready to deploy. Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:
* 1329 large dump trucks
* 51 loader-grapple attachments
* 294 loaders
* 14 vac trucks w/sewer jet
* 34 tracked excavators
* 43 wheeled excavators
* 56 tractor trailers w/ lowboy trailer
* 11 tree crew bucket trucks
* 36 traffic signal trucks
* 6 water pumps (4-6 inch)
* 73 chippers 10" (min) capacity
All affected residency locations will be staffed for 24/7 operations throughout the duration of the event. Mechanic support will be available 24/7 to keep response equipment operational. Flood/debris quick-response crews will be pre-staged in the Long Island and Mid-Hudson regions overnight Saturday to perform immediate response to any needs that arise.
Thruway Authority staff are proactively inspecting and clearing drainage systems and performing general maintenance on equipment to respond to potential flooding. Staff are prepared to respond to any flooding issues statewide with more than 664 operators and supervisors, small to medium sized excavators, plow/dump trucks, large loaders and a number of portable VMS boards, portable light towers, smaller generators, smaller pumps and equipment hauling trailers, as well as signage and other traffic control devices available for any detours or closures.
The Thruway Authority encourages motorists to download its mobile app which is available to download for free on iPhone and Android devices. The app provides motorists direct access to live traffic cameras, real-time traffic information and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert e-mails which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway, follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter, and visit thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.
State Police swiftwater teams consist of two airboats and two rigid hull inflatable boats, along with two teams of trained troopers available on 12-hour shifts. The teams are coordinated by OFPC who will determine where assets will be staged.
The New York State Police has instructed all Troopers to remain vigilant and closely monitor conditions for any problems. Additional personnel will be deployed to affected areas as needed. All four-wheel drive vehicles and all specialty vehicles, including Utility Terrain Vehicles, are in-service.
DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas and infrastructure likely to be impacted by severe weather. All available assets, including swiftwater rescue teams and sawyers, are positioned to assist with any emergency response.
New York's utilities have approximately 5,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response, and restoration efforts across the State. Department of Public Service staff will track the utilities' work throughout the storm event and will ensure utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to be impacted the most.
New York State Park Police and park personnel are on alert and closely monitoring weather conditions and impacts. Park visitors should check the parks website here or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.
The New York Power Authority and the Canal Corporation have secured and prepared assets and are currently monitoring forecasts and conditions. The Power Authority is ready to support power restoration activities if needed.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is taking all necessary precautions to protect its transportation network and deliver safe service. MTA agencies are working closely together, coordinating with local partners to develop precautionary plans should service be impacted. The MTA is deploying additional personnel and prepositioning essential backup equipment across the commuter railroads, subways, and agency's bridges and tunnels. The Long Island Rail Road is proactively tackling items such as overgrown trees, utility poles, drainage and switches that significant weather events typically affect to mitigate impacts. On the subway, maintenance personnel will inspect track drains in flood-prone areas, and check and stage track pumps and storm boxes prior to the storms. The MTA encourages customers to take extra precautions when traveling during heavy rain and winds. This includes allowing for extra travel time, taking extra caution when walking on platforms and stairs, watching for slippery conditions and being mindful for overhead foliage or wires.
The Port Authority's Office of Emergency Management is monitoring weather conditions throughout today and into Sunday, when heavy rain and wind is anticipated in the Port District. Passengers using Port Authority airports are encouraged to contact carriers and airlines in advance directly for current information on any potential delays and cancelations. Drivers using agency bridges and tunnels are asked to seek updated information on the Port Authority website and via travel alerts in the event of reduced speed limits on bridges due to high winds or potential flooding. For the latest information about Port Authority facilities, please check social media, sign up for PA alerts, or download one of the PA mobile apps.
In preparation for potential impacts from Tropical Storm Henri, the New York State Canal Corporation will preemptively lift its movable dams along the Erie Canal and Mohawk River between Lock E-8 in Rotterdam and Lock E-15 in Fort Plain. The initial lowering of water levels throughout this area will begin overnight with the lifting of the movable dams commencing at 7:00 am Sunday, August 22, 2021.
By lifting the movable dams out of the water, water levels within the Erie Canal and Mohawk River will be significantly reduced to near winter levels, which could result in grounding of any vessels left unattended. Residents and mariners are encouraged to take appropriate actions regarding any vessels, docks, or other seasonal structures in these areas which may be impacted or damaged by the significantly reduced water levels.
Lifting the movable dams out of the water is a necessary action to mitigate the risk of flooding in this area.
For mariners seeking safe harbor, the Waterford Flight, Locks E-2 - E-6, will be available for any vessels arriving by 5:00 pm this afternoon.
In addition, the Canal Corporation is taking preemptive measures to create additional storage capacity in both Hinckley and Delta Reservoirs in anticipation of precipitation from Tropical Storm Henri. The release of water will not result in any flooding in areas east of the reservoirs. Excess flows from precipitation earlier in the week, that impacted the areas of Utica and Rome, has had the opportunity to recede.
The Canal Corporation will continue to monitor the path of the storm and will update the public accordingly through additional Notice to Mariners alerts. Members of the public may sign-up to receive these notices here.
If traveling during heavy rain, please drive with care and keep these safety tips in mind:
* DO NOT attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and go another way.
* DO NOT underestimate the destructive power of fast-moving water. Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car. Water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
* Leave early to avoid being marooned on flooded roads.
* Follow recommended routes. DO NOT ignore emergency detours to view flooded areas.
* As you travel, monitor NOAA Weather Radio and local radio broadcasts for the latest information.
* Watch for washed-out roads, earth-slides, broken water or sewer mains, looseor downed electrical wires, and falling or fallen objects.
* Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges, and low areas.
* If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.
Prepare for flooding and severe weather:
* Know the county in which you live and the names of nearby cities. Severe weather warnings are issued on a county basis.
* Learn the safest route from your home or business to high, safe ground should you have to leave in a hurry.
* Develop and practice a 'family escape' plan and identify a meeting place if family members become separated.
* Make an itemized list of all valuables including furnishings, clothing and other personal property. Keep the list in a safe place.
* Stockpile emergency supplies of canned food, medicine and first aid supplies and drinking water. Store drinking water in clean, closed containers
* Plan what to do with your pets.
* Have a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries and emergency cooking equipment available.
* Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to pump fuel for several days. Have a small disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.
* Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.
* Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency waterproofing.
* Have disaster supplies on hand, including:
* Flashlight and extra batteries
* Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
* First aid kit and manual
* Emergency food and water
* Non-electric can opener
* Essential medicines
* Checkbook, cash, credit cards, ATM cards
If experiencing a power outage:
* Turn off or disconnect major appliances and other equipment, e.g., computers, in case of a momentary power surge that can damage these devices. Keep one light turned on so you know when power returns. Consider using surge protectors wherever you use electronic equipment.
* Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage and listen to local broadcasts for official information. For a list of utilities in NYS visit the New York State Department of Public Service.
* Use only flashlights for emergency lighting - candles pose the risk of fire.
* Keep refrigerators and freezer doors closed - most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
* Do not use a charcoal grill indoors and do not use a gas stove for heat - they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide.
* If you are in a tall building, take the stairs and move to the lowest level of the building. If trapped in an elevator, wait for assistance. Do not attempt to force the doors open. Remain patient - there is plenty of air and the interior of the elevator is designed for passenger safety.
* Remember to provide fresh, cool water for your pets.
* Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion and dangerous driving conditions. If you must drive during a blackout, remember to obey the 4-way stop rule at intersections with non-functioning traffic signals.
* Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines and elevators may not be working.
For more safety tips, visit the DHSES website here.