Currently FEMA is reporting that 14, 735 people are currently in supported shelters with the bulk in New York (9,500) and NJ (5,000). As of today a total of 78,896 housing inspections have been assigned with 16.5 percent of them completed as of early this morning. Again, NY leads all other states in the category of assigned inspections with 48,291. NY unfortunately lags behind other states in percent of completed inspections as well as in turnaround time which is taking 2.7 days compared to 2.1 in NJ and 2.0 in CT. Regional transportation issues have likely played a role in this turnaround time deficit and we would expect to see improvements as transportation assets come on line.
In terms of transportation the status of some key assets, such as the subways and buses in NYC, has improved substantially over the last couple days. The bridges and tunnels (tunnels in particular) are still substantially impacted. The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Queens Midtown Tunnel and Battery Park Underpass are all closed until further notice due to weather related flooding. The Holland Tunnel is running the South Tube as a buses only lane eastbound from 5:30 am – 10 am and westbound from 1 pm – 9 pm. The tunnel is closed at all other times and to other traffic (emergency vehicle exemptions). The MTA, Port Authority, NJ Transit and LIRR, etc. have done a good job of updating websites to get riders much needed information. For those of you that do not have access to the sites we have attached a TransCom, Jersey City Regional Conditions Report that contains additional information on the transportation sector. docs/TRANSCOM Regional Conditions Report 11042012 0930.pdf
The coming week will present additional challenges in terms of weather for the disaster stricken region. Already, much of the Central and Southern NJ areas impacted by the storm are under a Freeze Watch according to the National Weather Service. Tonight temperatures throughout the area are expected to drop into the 20s or low 30s. The temperature will drop again Monday into the 20s. These extreme cold temperatures will complicate recovery efforts and increase demand for already scarce fuel and energy.
There is the potential for a strong coastal storm, a Nor’easter, to impact the region late Tuesday or early Wednesday through Thursday. This storm is expected to bring strong gusty (at times gale force) winds, precipitation (some wintery), additional beach erosion from onshore winds and additional coastal flooding in some areas. NJ officials have been very busy trying to rebuild the dunes that protect the state’s barrier islands. Some areas are expected to see as much as 2.25 inches of rainfall in the next day or two. As the storm moves north and mixes with the extreme cold temperatures a wintry outcome becomes more likely. A 10 to 1 ratio (10 inches of snow per 1 inch of rain) can be used to estimate snowfall compared to rain estimates. At this time, the NWS has not advanced their forecast to show significant snow fall. Either way, the area will be cold and very wet Wednesday and Thursday. Unfortunately for those without power, the high winds expected may delay restoration activities in areas with above ground utility services.
The next several weeks will see businesses beginning to assess their organizational resilience (business continuity, disaster recovery) programs for effectiveness and to determine gaps between what was supposed to happen and what actually happened. These assessments will likely yield similar results across many businesses in the region. Emergency power, capacity of fuel tanks, refueling, locations of disaster recovery sites compared to primary sites, work from home strategies are all likely going to be contained within these assessments.
Security will likely play an expanded role in disaster recovery considerations particularly in terms of loss prevention in post disaster areas. Looting is common and occurring in this region. While most looting has been restricted to essentials (fuel, food, water) and known high value items (consumer electronics, jewelry, etc.) the theft of proprietary or Personally Identifying Information is also at risk in many businesses. Theft of laptop computers or servers from damaged or abandoned structures may yield valuable information to data thieves. Security Directors will be looked to for answers on how to secure company assets and information in damaged areas. Do you have a plan? If you do, was it successfully implemented? What can your organization do better to prepare and / or respond?