Long Beach residents urged to prepare for hurricane season


With another hurricane season beginning, officials are urging residents to take steps now to prepare for major storms.

At a news conference on the Long Beach boardwalk last Friday, representatives of the American Red Cross and city and state officials detailed the measures that residents should take to protect themselves and their families.

“Today, the Red Cross is responding to more large disasters, almost twice as many than we did a decade ago,” Jose Dominguez, chief executive of the organization on Long Island, said. “This growing need for help means it is critical for Long Island residents to make an emergency plan now.”

Dominguez emphasized the importance of preparedness, highlighting the severe consequences of hurricanes and the necessity of proactive planning.

Sea surface temperatures play a key role in the prediction of the frequency and strength of hurricanes, and the Atlantic Ocean is currently registering near-record high temperatures. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said there is an 85 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season, and just a 5 percent chance of a below-normal season. NOAA is forecasting 17 to 25 named storms, with eight to 13 of them becoming hurricanes.

“One storm can devastate a community,” Long Beach City Councilman Mike Reinhart said. “We know that firsthand in Long Beach. We’re a barrier island, and we take Mother Nature very seriously. With hurricane season approaching, we want to take this critical opportunity to help our residents plan and prepare. We can’t stress this enough: Preparation saves lives. Plan, prepare and don’t hesitate to execute that plan. While property can be replaced, people cannot.”

Planning for a major storm includes creating an emergency kit with essential supplies such as water, nonperishable food, medications, flashlights, batteries and important documents. Residents were also encouraged to have a family communication plan to ensure that family members know how to stay in touch and where to meet if they are separated.

In addition to individual preparedness, officials highlighted the city’s efforts to enhance its infrastructure. Ongoing projects aim to protect flood-prone areas and improve evacuation routes.

“I’m thankful to say we have an excellent working relationship with all of our government partners, as well as National Grid and PSEG, who are represented here today,” City Manager Dan Creighton said. “After Hurricane Sandy in the city of Long Beach, our government partners invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure we are more resilient and protected from storms.”

National Grid has conducted drills and taken part in joint exercises with other agencies to prepare to respond to gas outages and other emergencies created by storms. PSEG Long Island has upgraded its power grid and enhanced response protocols to be able to restore electricity quickly after storms.

Emergency alerts, which provide real-time updates and instructions, keep residents informed during major storms, and all are encouraged to sign up for notifications on the city’s website, LongBeachNewYork.gov/notifications. The Red Cross also recommends downloading its emergency app, which offers resources and information about disasters, including hurricanes. It can be accessed at redcross.org/apps.

More immediate steps to prepare for hurricane season include reviewing insurance policies, knowing evacuation routes and staying informed through official channels including social media, local news and official websites. By taking these steps, the community can better withstand the impact of a tropical storm or hurricane and recover more quickly.

“Long Beach, and the entire region, is a much better place than it was 10 years ago,” Creighton said. “But we can and should always do better, and not let our guard down. We’ll do our part together, and we’ll be able to weather whatever storm comes our way.”

At the news conference, Red Cross representatives provided pamphlets with detailed checklists for emergency kits, as well as guidelines for creating family communication plans. Officials also stressed the importance of community involvement, urging residents to check on their neighbors, particularly the elderly and those with disabilities, to ensure that they are also prepared.

The Red Cross highlighted the need for volunteers, emphasizing that in times of disaster, the demand for assistance often exceeds available resources. To learn more about hurricane season and opportunities to volunteer, visit redcross.org.