2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 303-3
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM

A GIS STUDY OF THE FATALITIES FROM SUPERSTORM SANDY ON STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK


BENIMOFF, Alan I., Department of Engineering Science and Physics and the Masters Program in Environmental Science, The College of Staten Island/CUNY, 2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314, FRITZ, William J., President, College of Staten Island/CUNY, 2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314 and KRESS, Michael, Vice President For Technology Systems, College of Staten Island/CUNY, 2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314, Alan.Benimoff@csi.cuny.edu

Using a GIS we have plotted fatality locations from Superstorm Sandy. Staten Island had 23 fatalities from Superstorm Sandy. Our GIS analysis shows that (1) the fatalities can be broken down into 2 age groups; Group 1 with 18 fatalities represents ages 50 to 89; group 2 with 5 fatalities represents ages 20 years old or younger. Two of the fatalities from group 2 were children ages 2 and 4 who were swept away in their parents’ vehicle. None of the fatalities were from the age group 21 to 49. (2) All except one of the fatalities were located in pre-Sandy NYCOEM (New York City Office of Emergency Management) evacuation zone “A” which was under an evacuation order. Since Sandy the NYCOEM has revised the evacuation zones to six (1-6). All but two of the fatality locations plot in the new NYCOEM Evacuation Zone 1; (3) 5 of the 23 fatality locations plot inside the post-Sandy buyout zones of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Further GIS analysis shows: (1) In all cases the distance from fatality location to high-ground was less than 1.29km; (2) 11 of the 23 fatalities occurred adjacent to the New Creek stream system which is a comprised of former tidal channels according to the 1902 topographic USGS map. This stream is being modified with BMP’s(Best Management Practices) in storm water management and is part of what is now known as the New Creek “Bluebelt”. Although this “bluebelt” stream system was supposed to function to get storm water out into the ocean it actually served as a conduit to bring storm surge water in. In fact this stream system was able to carry the storm surge as far as 2.03 km inland. This surge extent was not realized anywhere else on Staten Island. Staten Island is very vulnerable to hurricane storm surge due to its geography. The Mayor of the City of New York issued an evacuation order for the then evacuation zone “A” prior to Superstorm Sandy. This study shows the importance of complying with emergency evacuation orders. High-ground was nearby. Since each hurricane is different it is important to evacuate when the orders are issued. With modern communication we have to address getting the word out to those who couldn’t evacuate. We also have to educate the population on where to go to high-ground. We have proposed signage that will aid in this.

Handouts
  • Benimoff_FRITZ_KRESS_VANCOUVER_R1.pdf (4.5 MB)