August 21, 2021
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good afternoon, everybody. I want to give you an update on Hurricane Henri, and I’m joined by our Emergency Management Commissioner, John Scrivani, he’s going to give you an update too. Everyone at Emergency Management’s been working hard all day with a whole variety of city agencies to get the city ready. We’ve got, today, thank God, it’s going well. Tomorrow is the big issue. So, we’re going to be focusing on that. Right now, from what we’re hearing, the real impacts are tomorrow, but we want to start warning people now. We want you to make your plans the right way, to really minimize activity tomorrow. To the maximum extent possible, stay off the roads, stay indoors. There’s going to be heavy winds, a lot of rain, we could definitely be seeing some trees falling down, we need people to be safe. So, I’m telling you now, so you can alter your plans, prepare your plans for tomorrow, stay in to the maximum extent possible. So, we have been in constant touch today, Emergency Management with the National Hurricane Center, with the National Weather Service. I spoke with the FEMA Administrator, Deanne Criswell several times. She used to be our Emergency Management Commissioner, so she’s been great about keeping – excuse me – our team updated and looking out for us.
But what we know right now, the expected landfall early tomorrow morning, the early morning hours, in Long Island, particularly far eastern Long Island, is what we’re hearing right now. Obviously, with weather, with storms, things can change. We’ll be constantly updating New Yorkers, Emergency Management getting information out regularly, but what we really believe for sure we’re going to see is heavy rainfall, strong winds, again, really concerned about people being safe outside because when you add together a heavy rainfall, strong winds, you can have a lot of situations that make walking, driving, everything dangerous. We want to keep people safe. Tropical storm warning is in effect, flood watch, starting 8 pm tonight, going all the way to 8 am Monday morning. And we’re concerned about storm surges, particularly in parts of the Bronx and Northern Queens. John will give you more of a sense of that.
Earlier today I issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in New York City. We have done that because, we are preparing for tough impacts and we need to be ready, we need to be able to access everything, every tool that we might need in this situation. The State obviously has done the same for a number of areas around the State. We also took the action suspending outdoor dining tomorrow. So, that will be shut down tomorrow. We’ll be adding updates as we go along. Look, we have our situation room up and running at Emergency Management.
Again, we expect constant updates, but we know our challenges with flooding, so we have our emergency plan moving. We have our Down Trees Task Force already deployed. The bottom line is take time now, change your plans for tomorrow if you have to, prepare if you’re in someplace prone to flooding, take whatever steps you can to prepare, we’ll constantly update you. If you have belongings outside that might fly around in high winds, please secure them now. And then tomorrow keep an eye on neighbors, loved ones, see if they need anything, provide that support. That’s tomorrow.
Right now, as of today, tonight, things in the city are looking good, obviously very, very shortly, our historic Homecoming Concert starting up. We’re really happy about that. So far, knock on wood, weather holding back, and the storm will not affect the concert. It’s going to be a really wonderful moment for the city and celebrating this city. But I want to say to everyone, if you’re going to the concert, obviously go to it and then go home right after, get home, and get ready for tomorrow. To hear more about the reports that we’re getting and also how to prepare, I want you to hear from our Commissioner, again with great thanks to him and his team. They’re doing amazing work getting ready. Commissioner John Scrivani.
Commissioner John Scrivani, Emergency Management: Thank you, sir. Good afternoon. The City is closely monitoring Hurricane Henri, as the Mayor said, and the possible impact the storm may have here on the city. So, I just want to echo some of the comments that the Mayor said about the forecast. According to the National Weather Service, there’s a potential for heavy rain and strong wind that may reduce visibility and create hazardous travel conditions throughout the weekend. Storm impacts are forecast to begin overnight Saturday into Sunday, as the Mayor mentioned, an intensifying Sunday into the afternoon. Residual impacts including showers and breezy winds will still be possible into Monday. Henri has been upgraded to a hurricane last night, and it is still expected to make landfall in eastern Long Island on Sunday afternoon or Sunday morning. Still here in the city, three to six inches of rain are expected for the storm with locally higher amounts. Periods of heavy rain from overnight Saturday into Monday morning are expected, so please be careful especially if there is some localized flooding. We’re still under a tropical storm warning, as the Mayor mentioned, and the flood watch is still in effect. We still are under a storm surge warning for parts of New York City, including southern Bronx and northern Queens until further notice, and New York City beaches will be closed for swimming tomorrow and Monday.
So, just to echo some of the agency actions that New York City Emergency Management is taking, we remain in constant communication with the Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service to track and monitor the hurricane and share storm updates with all of our partners. We’ve activated the situation room and – but as of tomorrow morning, we will be activating our Hybrid Emergency Operation Center until further notice. We will also continue to coordinate daily with our inter-agency conference calls to facilitate the New York City agencies, work with state agencies, elected officials, nonprofits, the private sector, and of course, FEMA.
I wanted to share a couple of preparedness tips. Coastal storms, including nor’easters, tropical storms, and hurricanes can and do affect New York City. It is an is important New York City – New York City people take the time to prepare. All residents should have a plan in the event they need to evacuate or ride out the storm at home. Please take this storm seriously, pay attention to official announcements, you can stay informed by signing up for Notify NYC, New York City’s official emergency communications program, by going to nyc.gov/notifyNYC, or by calling 3-1-1. New Yorkers should plan for difficult travel conditions and are advised to exercise caution. Those who can stay home during the storm are advised to stay indoors. Heavy rain may lead to potential flooding in low lying areas throughout the city. If you are traveling, avoid flooded areas, turn on your headlights, drive slowly, and exercise caution, and please do not drive into flooded areas. Consider avoiding or delaying travel until the floods or heavy rain have stopped. As the Mayor mentioned, please check on friends and relatives and neighbors, especially older adults and people with disabilities, access functional needs, or other health conditions. Help them to prepare if needed, and as I’ve said in multiple conferences in the last few weeks about whether, this is a safety message. So, the priority here is safety. Please exercise caution and make good decisions.
I just wanted to mention one last thing. Some of the folks in Brooklyn and Queens may have received a wireless emergency alert last night related to the storm surge warning. That is a warning that is automatically triggered by the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service when certain warnings – weather warnings – are issued. New York City is currently to the west of the center of the storm, and we are not asking our residents at this time to evacuate, but you should stay prepared and have precautions ready in case the storm changes. Thank you, sir.
Mayor: Thank you so much, Commissioner. Everyone, look, the bottom line is situation like this take it seriously. You’re getting a lot of warning here, getting a lot of information, we thank the media for all the information they’re providing, Emergency Management, constantly putting out information. You’re going to see lots and lots of news tonight and tomorrow morning. Take it seriously, don’t take it lightly, change your plans, change your approach, accordingly, secure your belongings, like let’s just be ready. If we’re ready – when New Yorkers follow through, we do a great job and that’s what we got to do here. Stay informed, take it seriously, be ready, and we will let you know every development along the way, and I am convinced we all work together, we’re going to get through this well. So, now let’s turn to questions from the media.
Moderator: Good afternoon. The Mayor is joined Commissioner John Scrivani, as well as Health Commissioner, Dr. Dave Choksi. We will now begin our Q-and-A with Emma Fitzsimmons from New York Times.
Question: Hi, good evening, Mayor. I was curious, have you spoken to Governor Cuomo today or do you have plans to do so?
Mayor: I have not spoken with him, Emma. Our team, certainly, you know, our city team stays in touch with the State team constantly, Emergency Management coordinates closely with the State, as well as federal government so we feel that people are well coordinated right now. Go ahead.
Question: And then, do you expect power outages in the city? Is that something people should be prepared for?
Mayor: Yeah, we do, and certainly we’re going to work really hard to keep that to a minimum and work with the energy companies to make sure that if, God forbid, we have any outages, they are addressed quickly. The big issue here is going to be wind and downed trees. We have pre-positioned a lot of our assets in terms of addressing downed trees so that we can move quickly anywhere in the five boroughs if we do see downed trees. But it stands to reason, Emma, that this kind of wind event, this kind of storm event, you will see some trees come down, you will see some wires come down. We will have some outages. Our job is to keep them as few and as brief as possible.
Moderator: Our next and it looks like our final question for today will be Sophia Chang from WNYC and Gothamist.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor,
Mayor: Hi, Sophia, how you doing?
Question: I’m good. I’m good. So, the Governor held his press conference this afternoon, and he did not have Lieutenant Governor Hochul present, and he said he’s still the Governor, he is still in charge. Do you think he should have included the next Governor? And are you worried about how this will affect the State’s response to the hurricane?
Mayor: Clearly the most important thing is that the State is taking action and is prepared. That’s what matters most. At the same time, the Lieutenant Governor will be taking over in just a few days, and we’ll have to run the entire effort, whatever aftermath. So, I just want to believe there is close coordination going on. That’s what matters, that the State is doing the work to prepare and that the outgoing Governor and incoming Governor are coordinated. That’s what we need to know. Go ahead, Sophia.
Question: Thank you, and about the Homecoming Concert in central park tonight, is it a good idea to deploy resources like NYPD to this concert when storm prep is underway for this category one hurricane?
Mayor: Sophia, it’s a good question, but it’s really two very different things. And, Commissioner’s, Scrivani, who in a previous part of his life was a member of the NYPD, he can speak about the different things that are happening simultaneously here to prepare, but since the real impact is not expected until well after the concert, we believe absolutely we can do both these things at once. We’re going to have all city agencies on full alert, lots of personnel available. Right now, we’re very confident in the weather, the concert will be something very important for the city, it is getting worldwide attention. It is a message to the whole world that New York City is back, New York City is strong, that’s really important. And also, thanks to everyone involved who put this conference together out of a love for our and belief in New York City. But right now, the weather is far enough away that we can get this done safely, get everyone home, and then of course, deploy resources accordingly. Commissioner, you want to add.
Commissioner Scrivani: Yeah. Thank you, sir. So, the pleasure of being the Emergency Management Commissioner here in New York City is that we have ample resources to handle multiple events, special events, weather events at the same time. We’ve been coordinating closely with all the city agencies, including NYPD who has been heavily engaged in, as the Mayor mentioned, the Downed Tree Task Force, all of our situation room and EOC activations, there’s been no gap in any of our preparedness and there won’t be any gap in any of our response because of any of these special events. We will handle it accordingly.
Mayor: Thank you.
Moderator: That is all okay.
Mayor: Okay, and everyone, thank you. We’ll keep it constantly posted. Commissioner, remind people if they want to sign up for updates, how they do that.
Commissioner Scrivani: Yeah, please go to nyc.gov/notifyNYC or call 3-1-1 to sign up for notify.
Mayor: Yeah, constant updates as they come in, but I think everyone I know is doing a great job of keeping track, through the media, online, through all the city sources. Just stay informed, listen for the messages, act on them, and we’re going to get through the next 24, 48 hours and keep moving forward bringing back this city and everyone, thank you. As New Yorkers, I know New Yorkers will work together to see us through this and to support each other once again. Thanks very much.