NYC prepares, though not much expected from Earl

The News Leader

September 2, 2010 1:29:45 PM PDT
The wind has already picked up on Coney Island and the surf is a little choppier, forcing lots of families to change their weekend plans.

"Knowing about Earl now and Fiona coming right behind her, we're going to stay away for a while," Maria Rivas said.

In downtown Brooklyn, emergency officials including police and fire launched a new campaign to be prepared - perfect timing for a hurricane, even if it does dodge the city.

"At this point it appears Earl is going to pass to our right or east, stay out in the open water, but we're going to have some effects in New York City," Emergency Commissioner Joe Bruno said.

Those effects include high wind and perhaps a lot of rain Friday. That's why the city emergency situation room's been activated.

Federal officials say they're not worried about the hurricane hitting New York.

"Most of the models show New York City is not going to have hurricane-force winds, but hurricanes don't' follow scripts," Richard Serino, FEMA Deputy Administrator, said.

Still, the NYC Department of Buildings is advising all builders, contractors, developers and property owners to take precautions because of the potential impact of Hurricane Earl.

The Department will be performing random spot-check inspections of construction sites around the city.

If construction sites are not safely secured, officials could issue violations and Stop Work Orders if necessary.

The department says property owners must consider the safety of their buildings and construction sites, cranes, suspended and supported scaffolding, hoists and any other building appurtenances that may come loose under heavy winds and rain should Earl hit the city.

The forecast track is east of the city, but these actions are being taken out of an abundance of caution.

The department strongly suggests consulting a professional to advise how to safely secure construction sites and buildings.

The department also offered these tips:

To secure construction sites, builders, contractors and developers should take all precautionary measures including but not limited to the following:

  • Tie down and secure material and loose debris at construction sites.
  • Cover electrical equipment from exposure to the weather.
  • Store loose tools, oil cans and extra fuses in a tool box.
  • Secure netting, scaffolding and sidewalk sheds.
  • Suspend crane operations and secure crane equipment when wind speeds reach 30 mph or greater.
  • Suspend hoist operations and secure exterior hoists when wind speeds reach 35 mph or greater, unless manufacturer specifications state otherwise.
  • Brace and secure construction fences.
  • Call 9-1-1 if there is an emergency on a construction site.

    Buildings Bulletin 2010-019 outlines the requirements for vertical netting, debris netting and material fall protection devices at buildings and construction sites.

    To secure a building, property owners should take all precautionary measures including but not limited to the following:

  • Bring inside loose, lightweight objects such as lawn furniture, potted plants, garbage cans, garden tools and toys.
  • Anchor objects that would be unsafe outside, such as gas grills or propane tanks.
  • Close up and secure patio umbrellas.
  • Secure retractable awnings.
  • Clear rooftop drains, gutters and leaders.
  • Remove aerial antennas and satellite television dishes.

    New Yorkers are encouraged to call 3-1-1 to report non-compliant conditions or 9-1-1 to report emergencies at construction sites or buildings. New Yorkers who suspect a building or property has been structurally compromised should call 9-1-1.

    Under §28-301.1 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, property owners are legally obligated to maintain their properties in a safe condition. Department weather advisories are strictly a courtesy to remind property owners to prepare their properties for inclement weather and cannot be read to suggest that the Department, rather than the property owner, is responsible for maintaining his or her property.

    For more information on the Ready New York City campaign, visit or call 311.