City releases new hurricane evacuation maps with more people in worst zone

City releases new hurricane evacuation maps with more people in worst zone
Office of Emergency Management

Gerritsen Beach and 600,000 more residents now occupy the city’s most dangerous flood areas, according to the new hurricane evacuation zones released by the city last Tuesday.

The new zones are now distinguished numerically, on a scale of one to six, to help residents gauge whether they should run for the hills. Zone 1 is the most vulnerable to storm surges.

The Office of Emergency Management said that the zones don’t correspond to any particular category of storm, and the city’s decision to evacuate a certain number of zones will be based on a variety of storm factors.

“There’s not a hard and fast breakdown. You can’t correlate the zone to a storm’s category,” said a spokeswoman for the Office of Emergency Management. “Some of the variables they would take into account are the size, the track, and how far the winds radiate from the center of the storms.”

One thing people living in Zone 1 neighborhoods can count on is that if anybody gets asked to evacuate, they’ll be the first.

“Zone 1 would be evacuated first,” said the spokeswoman.

In Southern Brooklyn, Gerritsen Beach is now firmly within Zone 1. Under the previous system, the working class neighborhood had been in Evacuation Zone B.

The city took flak from residents after hundreds of homes in that neighborhood were flooded during Sandy.

However, many residents feel that the only exodus anyone’s likely to see out of Gerritsen Beach is of gas-powered vehicles, and that the biggest lesson learned from the hurricane was to not leave anything with a motor in a low-lying area during a flood.

“I’d say the majority of people will sit tight,” said George Broadhead, president of the Gerritsen Beach Property Owner’s Association. “The only thing people learned through experience was to move their cars to higher ground. Between 1,200 to 1,800 cars were ruined, and nobody wants that to happen again.”

Only a few homes in Bergen Beach are now within Zone 1 — those located on streets directly bordering the coast, including portions of E. 69th Street and Bergen Avenue, and also Avenue Y.

Mill Island and the southern portions of Canarsie, formerly Zone B, are now in the roughly analogous Zone 2, despite portions of those neighborhoods sustaining heavy flood damage in Sandy.

Roughly a quarter of New York City’s population may now reside in designated evacuation zones, but it would take a serious disaster for the city to call a general retreat, according to an OEM spokeswoman.

“It would take a very severe storm to mandate the evacuation of Zone 6,” she said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.