What if Hurricane Irene Hits New York City? (Flood Zone Finder)
Damage to New York City from Hurricane Irene Could Be Catastrophic
Hurricane Irene is making its way towards the east coast of the US, and could reach Long Island by the weekend. If New York City is hit by Hurricane Irene, the damage could be catastrophic. Flooding and high winds could smash up the city, between fallen trees, scattered scaffolding and gridlocked cars.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the city has hurricane contingency plans, including the potential for evacuating lower-lying areas like Coney Island, Brighton Beach, the Rockaways, and Battery Park City.
Is Your Apartment Hurricane-Proof?
Many apartment buildings in New York City are well over 100 years old. How hurricane-proof is your building? You can find out when your building was built, and then decide whether it's wiser to get out of town if Irene comes knocking. If you have anything out on your fire escape or outdoor space, bring it inside before the wind picks up, or your potted plant could come crashing through your or your neighbor's window.
Jeff Masters at Weather Underground points out the immediate risk to the NYC subway system, whose barriers are only five feet above sea level. Should the tunnels flood, the result would be disastrous. Also, the runways of JFK Airport, one of the busiest in the world, could be swamped, snarling global air traffic for days or weeks.
If you live in one of New York City's lower-lying neighborhoods, keep in mind that the MTA could shut down the subway system on Saturday, August 27. Keep an eye on mta.info.
Previous New York Hurricanes
While the East Coast has had several hurricane hits, New York City has gotten off relatively easy, with a few notable exceptions.
The only hurricane to directly hit New York City was 1821: the Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane flooded Manhattan from the Battery to Canal Street.
The New England Hurricane of 1938 (aka "the Long Island Express") made landfall in Suffolk County, killing 60 people in New York, and nearly 700 people overall. It was the most destructive storm in New England history.