In case you missed it

How to keep yourself—and your apartment—safe during serious storms

By Lucy Cohen Blatter | September 7, 2017 - 12:00PM

Hurricane Irma from space


As the effects of Hurricane Harvey are still being felt across Texas and Louisiana, Hurricane Irma is slamming the eastern Caribbean and looks to be headed for Florida, and Tropical Strom Jose is gathering strength in the Atlantic, it makes sense to go over your own hurricane preparedness plans, even if New York is outside of the immediately foreseeable paths of the storms.

Here are six important tips to keep in mind here in NYC when the next storm is on its way:

Bring anything that's outdoors back indoors

Anything that's not attached to the ground should be brought indoors to avoid the risk of things blowing away. That includes furniture, pots, and umbrellas on terraces, balconies, and fire escapes. Secure heavy items together to weigh them down even more.

Steer clear of windows

Don't stand near windows during a storm, and keep your curtains drawn. Leon Geoxavier, an architect and window expert at Walker Restoration Consultants in Manhattan, tells us that larger, unobstructed glass windows are more at risk, so if you have floor-to-ceiling windows, consider yourself warned. Whether you're on a higher or lower floor doesn't make much difference when it comes to wind conditions, he says.

In the past, experts have suggested prevented windows from breaking by boarding them up or placing duct tape in an "x" shape across the glass. Officials with the National Hurricane Center now advise against using tape, saying that it can cause a false sense of security and also lead to larger, more dangerous shards of glass blowing through your apartment.

Read up on emergency supply checklists

The city's handout on hurricanes offers lots of practical information regarding what to do if you're being evacuated, and what supplies you should keep on hand (for example, make sure to have flashlights and one gallon of drinking water per person per day).

Check your insurance coverage

The most common damage comes from wind or rising water. Ordinary renter’s, co-op, and condo insurance is supposed to cover wind damage—for instance, anything that smashes into your window, or rain coming in through a gash opened in your wall or roof by the wind, says Jeff Schneider of Gotham Brokerage (a Brick sponsor). Regular insurance also covers limited damage caused by storm- and flood-related power outages, he says.

Be prepared if you have to relocate

If you're a renter displaced by a storm, you're not responsible for paying your rent because you're facing what's legally called "constructive eviction." Attorney Steve Wagner says if you're thinking about claiming constructive eviction, make sure you document any and all issues that are making your apartment uninhabitable, with dates.

Co-op residents who can't live in their apartments could claim that they are entitled to an abatement on their maintenance charges, or even try to obtain reimbursement for temporary housing.

Know where to go in your building—and your apartment—if a storm does become a hurricane

If you live on the first floor, check with neighbors higher up to see if you can crash with them for a couple of days in a worst-case flood scenario. In the case of a bigger storm like Sandy, it's good to know what your options are. Bear in mind that the power might go off in your buildings, turning off elevators. And once the storm hits, take to interior rooms or the hallway.

[This story first ran in October 2015 and was updated in September 2017.]


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