Thursday, August 03, 2006

More evacuations: Manhattan?

I hadn't expected to get so many questions regarding my thoughts on large/extended family evacuations. Actually, truth be told, I wasn't expecting questions at all. Let's take a look.

What suggestions do you have for the masses living in crowded northeastern metropolitan where often "alternate routes" aren't such an option?

Given human nature, it seems to me that most folks tend to wait until the last moment to start running. Having watched a couple of natural disasters as they unfolded, so to speak, I have noticed that the roads appear to be relatively empty during the first hours, or sometimes even days, after people are informed that the Fit Is About To Hit The Shan.

Getting into the wind as soon as possible after discovering that Mother Nature is winding up a right hook will probably leave you with less-congested roads.

There are only a certain number of routes into/out of Manhattan. DC isn't much better.

Let me preface this by saying I've never been on the ground in Manhattan, I don't know anything about Manhattan, and I'm working from a bit of a disadvantage here.

Assuming that circumstances conspire to force you to leave later, rather than sooner, how to evac?

So. Let us pull up a topo map of Manhattan and the surrounding area, pour a mug of Earl Grey, and let the mind wander.

You know what comes to mind? Evacuation routes are only limited if you limit yourself to ground transportation only.

It would take a bit more prep, but would it be possible to arrange for the use of a boat to ferry your and your across the water? Manhattan is an island. I would imagine that the places for a boat to dock and take on you and yours should be fairly numerous, even without Improvising, Adapting, and Overcoming.

The simplest iteration is to arrange for a friend and/or family member to be waiting at a pre-determined point on the mainland for pick-up. This allows you to by-pass congested bridges, but gets you back on roadways as quick as possible.

Alternately, depending upon variables I don't have access to, it might be possible to use the boat itself as the evac. Both the East River and the Hudson River appear to be navigable for a good part of the year. Assuming that you begin your evac with a safe margin, there doesn't appear to be any great obstacle to riding one of the rivers right out of the danger zone, to a destination point on one of the rivers itself, or disembarking and proceeding with your evac well-clear of any panic zones.

Again, I don't know the area, but it's an idea to mind-wrestle.

If boats aren't to your liking, as long as you leave at first warning, the roads and highways should be relatively clear.

LawDog

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm now getting mental images of New Yorkers with inflatable life rafts in their closets.

Oldfart said...

I have a friend who used to work for a large metropolitan police department. In his spare time he also explored caves. Working on the eleventh floor of the cop-shop he set up a way to get out of the building if the power were to fail, leaving the elevators stalled (there were no stairs.) He kept a rope in his desk and had a special typewriter positioned near the window, ready to be thrown through said window. Once the glass was gone, all he had to do was rappel down the rope. The prisoners on floors twelve through fourteen would have been out of luck.

Rorschach said...

Might I also suggest that people who live in such rat warrens should reconsider thier choice of habitation with such factors in mind. Cities are deathtraps. Always have been, always will be. You live in one at your own peril. I live on the outskirts of Houston. Houston is quite a bit better in that regard because it is so spread out and has lots of roads in and out, but even then it was ground zero for the largest peacetime evacuation ever, and I assure you, it was a mess. Our population density is half to a quarter of manhattan's and that is a good thing, despite the mass transit loving urbanites (we call them N.U.T.S. here) that would have all of us living in 20 story rat warrens in the central business district.

You'll note that people dependent on mass transit did not fare terribly well in NOLA. There is wisdom in owning your own transportation system.

CDH (in coastal S. Texas) said...

Some comments on 'shelter in place' would be appropriate too, IMO.

Honestly, even with the wrath of Hurricane Rita bearing down on Houston (for example) the vast majority of the evacuees were in no real danger from even a direct hit. Anyone with a well built house in a non-flood prone area several miles inland puts themselves in more danger getting ont he road than by boarding up and sitting tight. That covers a large percentage of the Houston metro area in a hurricane, much of which evacuated. Even if your house loses it's roof the occupants will not be in mortal danger!

Everyone has to make their own choices, but since no one in government wants to talk about shelter in place (covering thier ass I guess, easier to just say get out than to ask people to think and evaluate their individual situation) I try to get the word out any time I can.

Rorschach said...

cdh, you are so very right! I rode Rita out in place (I live in Spring on the north side of town) and the worst thing we suffered was a loss of power for about 6- 8 hours. Several people, including Houston's most prolific blogger, Laurence Simon, wanted to leave when they had no real reason or need to do so. I convinced Lair that A) he had nothing to worry about given his location, and B) it was too danged late to think about leaving anyhow and he was much better off riding it out. He didn't even loose power I don't think.

Kristopher said...

Buy a 5 HP boat motor and a zodiac or a flat transomed canoe in Manhattan, then evac.

Most folks will be hitting the road ... no one will be going to a marina or a sporting goods store.

WR Olsen said...

One of the respondents to your blog said that the government doesn't talk about Shelter In Place. If you go to the web site of your local and/or state emergency management office (and all jurisdictions have an EM office)they talk about shelter in place as one of the options each person has when it comes to disater response.
What needs ot be stressed is that each and every one of use needs to be aware and responsible, but too many people assume the ostrich position when it comes to disater...recent studies reveal that even people who had to leave New Orleans are not taking any steps to protect themselves after they have retured to that benighted city.

Anonymous said...

cdh and others are right about SIP; I live in California, and my suburban risks are pretty much earthquakes. I happen not to live where fires are common. In an earthquake, where are you going to go? Staying home is by far the most sensible, though we do have a planned evacuation destination east of here. Our emergency supplies are out of the main house, so even if that collapses, we have food, water, and first aid stuff.

One thing which drives my wife nuts: just as one is advised to 'drive the top half of your tank' in winter where it snows, I insist we do that whenever we plan to go more than 10 miles from home. Earthquakes will drop electrical power, and gas pumps (and credit card readers!) run on electricity.

Cybrludite said...

For Katrina I left somewhat early (0500 Sunday morning) and went ground level out of the New Orleans Metro. Yes, it can be done. I didn't hop on the interstate until I got to the Baton Rouge area & needed to cross some major rivers. Now with a laptop GPS, I've got a better route picked out than what I had last year. (So long as it's not blocked off. This one goes south for a ways before turning north...)

Kiki B. said...

Good suggestion about the ferry, LawDog. I was watching The History Channel the other day, and they were talking about the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Of course, they had horrible fires afterwards. So, the city used Ferry's to evacuate a good number of citizens.

Having lived in Houston previously, as well as many other states in the nation, I know that many places don't necessarily have FM roads right off of the highway. Might I suggest a feeder(access) road to meet on, or a less-traveled road right off of the interstate? You could probably meet not too far off of the exit ramp, and it shouldn't be too hard to get right back on the freeway.

Kiki B. said...

I used to live in Spring, Rohrshach. How's living there now? I bet it's changed in the 15 years since I left...Lol.

I lived in SW FL for six years, and as you know, FL is pretty organized when it comes to hurricanes. Anyway, in the front of our telephone book, it would show a map of the county, and would rate the areas as to which ones would need to evacuate in which strength of storm. For example, coastal areas would evacuate in a tropical storm all the way up to where I lived east of town, I wouldn't have had to evacuate until a Cat. 4-5 hurricane. This was a really helpful tool to help people decide when or if they needed to evacuate, or if they could just ride it out, and maybe even have friends or family who needed to evacuate stay with them, instead of having to hit the highway.

karla (threadbndr) said...

Here in KS, our major issues are tornados and winter ice storms. MAYBE earthquake, but we're pretty far from the New Madrid fault. I'm most worried about getting my sister here (and out of KC).

I'm thinking shelter in place for most of my planning and keeping gear in the car (with a subset in a pack in the office) to keep body and soul together in order to GET home.

Anonymous said...

Note that there are any number of ways out of Manhattan heading north. Once you get to the Bronx or Riverdale, you are on the mainland. Head north young man and use the Willis Ave., 3rd Ave., Madison Ave., 145th St., Macombs Dam Bridge (155th St.), 207th St. and the Bradway Bridge. Any of these will get you to the Bronx and the mainland. Head north from there.