The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has released revised hurricane evacuation zones based on a new report that analyzes the city’s response to Sandy.
Exact borders are still being finalized and will not be released until June, according to OEM. The office’s preliminary draft replaces the current hurricane evacuation zones—known as Zones A, B and C—with zones numbered one to six.
Zone A currently receives a mandatory evacuation notice in the event of a Category 1 or higher storm, as happened during Sandy and Irene; Zone B, during a Category 2 or higher storm; and Zone C during a Category 3 to 5 hurricane.
The new zones will include an additional 640,000 New Yorkers that are not part of the current ones.
During Sandy, several areas outside of Zone A saw significant flooding. Residents there felt they should have been included in mandatory pre-storm evacuations.
Frances Scarantino lives in one of those neighborhoods, Howard Beach.
The draft OEM map shows part of Howard Beach, which now sits in Zone B, in the new evacuation Zone 1.
The Sandy evacuations “didn’t make any sense to me,” said Scarantino.
Her own home and businesses were flooded, while rising waters trapped her parents on the second floor of their Howard Beach home near a canal.
After the storm hit, Scarantino’s parents’ neighborhood was told to evacuate, but the news never reached them.
Although Scarantino begged her parents to leave before Sandy came ashore, her parents, reflecting on the experience of Irene a year earlier, wanted to stay.
“My parents have lived there about 35 years and didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was,” she said.