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De Blasio Talks Hurricane Preparedness As Tropical Storm Bertha Churns In Atlantic

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging all New Yorkers to be prepared for peak hurricane season as forecasters keep a close eye on Tropical Storm Bertha churning in the Atlantic.

De Blasio appeared alongside Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito in Brooklyn Friday to talk hurricane preparedness.

De Blasio Talks Hurricane Preparedness As Tropical Storm Bertha Churns In Atlantic

At the event in Red Hook, the mayor and other city officials assembled "go bags" for New York City Housing Authority residents to make sure they are ready in the event of an emergency evacuation.

"New York City is most vulnerable to hurricanes from August through October," de Blasio said. "Almost three million New Yorkers live in a hurricane evacuation zone, so it's imperative that people prepare and make a plan for what you will do if you are ordered to evacuate your home."

Mayor de Blasio said while physical repairs following Sandy are well underway, it's the human element that needs more focus now, CBS 2's Vanessa Murdock reported.

"We weren't prepared enough on the human side when Sandy hit," the mayor said. "We learned a lot of lessons and we have to help empower (residents) to protect themselves and protect their neighbors."

As WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported, evacuation zones have been expanded, shelter space has been increased and communication has improved.

Sherrie Smith-Moseley is part of a community emergency response team of New Yorkers trained to help others in times of disaster, Diamond reported.

"I have batteries, a flashlight, poncho, bandages and stuff like that, water," Sherrie Smith-Moseley said.

The Red Hook event also handed out books to kids, showing them how to be ready and be safe when the next storm hits, Murdock reported.

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center in Miami says Bertha is expected to pass near or north of Barbados on Friday.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. A tropical storm watch is in effect for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Bertha is the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The first named storm of the season, Hurricane Arthur, caused dangerous rip currents along the coast in parts of New York and New Jersey over the July Fourth weekend.

In 2012, storm surge was devastating to the Tri-State area when Superstorm Sandy slammed the East Coast, killing 147 people and causing $50 billion in damage.

Sandy lost hurricane status when it made landfall in New Jersey.

City officials say there are three key steps New Yorkers can take to be ready during hurricane season:

- Find out whether you live in one of the city's six hurricane evacuation zones.
- Make a plan on how to communicate and find loved ones, roommates or neighbors during an emergency.
- Sign up for email, text, phone and Twitter emergency updates and information through the city's free Notify NYC program at

"We've redone them as a result of Sandy," OEM Commissioner Esposito said. "We did some homework and we went from three to six zones."

New York City residents can learn which of six evacuation zones they live in as well as other info on hurricane preparedness by visiting the city's "Know Your Zone" website.

Should another super storm threaten the city, the National Weather Service has posted an Experimental Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map on YouTube, highlighting how high above ground the water could rise, Murdock reported.

During the six-month hurricane season, forecasters name tropical storms when top winds reach 39 mph; hurricanes have maximum winds of at least 74 mph.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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