Mayor Eric Adams’ administration handled the city’s response to flooding in coastal areas of Queens like Broad Channel and the Rockaways while reporters wondered where he was Friday.
The mayor was absent from a Friday afternoon briefing that City Hall officials provided about the storm. According to First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo, Hizzoner was outside of the five boroughs, but in contact with the administration as they coordinated the response.
Grillo, who serves acting mayor when her boss is out of town, said Adams decided to take two days off and “get some rest.” She confirmed the mayor is outside of the five boroughs, but wouldn’t disclose where when pressed by reporters several times.
“I certainly do know where he is,” Grillo said. “But let me just say this to you: he might as well be here because we’ve been speaking to each other constantly throughout the day, and speaking with all of us to keep updated on what’s going on and to actually direct us to do this. But the mayor decided to take two days off and get some rest and instead of course he’s dealing with this, but just not here.”
Grillo was surrounded by a cadre of administration officials including Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives – and future first deputy mayor – Sheena Wright, city Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol, FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh and several others.
Preparing for the storm
Iscol said his agency has been fanned out across the city, along with personnel from other city agencies, throughout the day responding to the damage wrought by the winter storm. The flooding, he said, was caused by a three-foot storm surge exacerbated by the new moon and windy conditions.
“This is a difficult weather event,” Iscol said. “We needed to prepare not only for rain, but also a tidal flooding that was made worse by the new moon in addition to large amounts of wind offshore that was piling water into New York Harbor in addition to Jamaica Bay, adding about three foot above mean tide flood surge.”
Governor Kathy Hochul declared a statewide state of emergency over the storm Thursday night.
In the morning, Emergency Management advised people in southern Queens neighborhoods affected by the flooding to find higher ground and not drive or walk through standing water.
Additionally, Iscol said Emergency management put four “resource centers” in libraries and two “ service centers” in schools located in flood prone areas online on Friday. At the service centers, he said, the Red Cross will offer cleaning kits and hotel room placements to those in need.
They also readied blocks of hotel rooms ahead of the storm to make sure those were ready for anyone who may need them, he said.
The city is now also preparing, Iscol said, for a drastic weather change, where the temperature is expected to drop to the teens and single digits, over the weekend and 60-mile-per-hour winds late Friday. Iscol warned that the large amount of precipitation coupled with the low temperatures may cause the formation of black ice, which people should be on the lookout for.
Iscol said the cold temperatures also triggered the city Department of Social Services to activate “code blue,” which involves sending teams out to find homeless individuals on the streets and get them into city shelters.
“This is incredibly important,” Iscol said. “As you all know, probably most of you walked out of your homes today, it was a little bit warmer. It’s going to be a lot colder today. That change in temperature leaves us very concerned about people who are on our streets and making sure that they’re getting into shelter.”