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City Recommends Expanding Storm Evacuation Zones

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City officials offered up several recommendations Friday in a new report analyzing the city's handling of Hurricane Sandy, which include the redrawing of evacuation zones to include more than 1 million New Yorkers. NY1's Elizabeth Kaledin filed the following report.

The lengthy post-mortem can be viewed as a report card of sorts, grading the city's response before, during and after Hurricane Sandy.

"We said at hurricane time, we would spend some time and do in depth and figure out what we did well, what we could have done better, what will have have ready for the next time, if similar kind of things happen," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "They're concrete things that we should do in the city, and practical things."

The report introduces a new evacuation map, replacing the former zones A, B and C with new zones 1 through 6. This means an additional 640,000 New Yorkers may now be asked to evacuate in the event of a storm.

On the whole, according to officials like Cas Holloway, deputy mayor for operations, the city fared well considering the magnitude of Hurricane Sandy, but the storm was definitely a wake-up call that some things need to change.

"There are 60 recommendations, and I think each of them could be characterized as, in one way or another, improving or strengthening something that, an aspect of the city's response," Holloway said.

For example, given the widespread power outages, city officials want to buy more light towers. Police and fire departments need more boats. Traffic safety was a big issue during blackouts, and the city is now looking at ways to back up traffic lights. And more generators are also on the shopping list.

"Maybe we should invest and have more [generators] sitting there in storage so we can get to them," Bloomberg said.

Communications also showed some weak spots. Although the city said the 911 system worked well, and officials were active on social media and Twitter, the 311 system was overloaded, bogged down by 20,000 calls an hour.

"You cant tell people to call 311 and then not be able go through," Holloway said. "311 did not go down. It stayed up, and the website stayed up, but response times were slower."

The mayor said he as already accepted the reports recommendations and hopes his successor will put them in action. Six months later, New York City is getting ready for the next big storm.

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