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Queens residents question Hurricane Irene preparation

TASHANTA SNYDER Special to the AmNews | 9/21/2011, 3:54 p.m.
Queens residents question Hurricane Irene preparation

Jamaica, Queens, residents expressed their concern about New York City's hurricane preparation had Irene been a stronger storm.

"Suburban areas had more evacuation shelters than inner-city neighborhoods," said Queens resident Tiara Utley, 21.

According to nyc.gov, there are three evacuation shelters in Southern Queens, where the minority is the majority. The evacuation shelters include John Adams High School, Belmont Racetrack and York College. Meanwhile, the Rockaway section of the borough had five to 10 shelters to one evacuation center, although they were forcefully evacuated by the National Guard.

"I think if the storm had been worse, the suburban neighborhoods would have been more prepared than urban neighborhoods," said Utley.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg updated New Yorkers on preparations for Hurricane Irene on Aug. 26, he explained that the evacuation centers are organized on a solar system model in order to avoid another Hurricane Katrina situation.

"The focus should be on providing necessary shelters to all neighborhoods prior to a disaster actually happening," said Queens resident Quinn Wall, 45.

According to National Geographic, Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. A category 4 storm on this scale is considered extreme, with wind speeds between 131 and 155 miles per hour and storm surges anywhere between 9 to 12 feet high. Hurricane Irene was minimal when compared to Katrina, coming into the tristate area as a category 1 storm, with wind speeds as low as 74 to 95 miles per hour and storm surges between 4 to 5 feet high.

"It definitely makes you wonder. If New York was hit by a Hurricane Katrina, would inner-city neighborhoods be prepared?" asked Queens resident Dale Ayo, 52.