Impacted businesses advised to file claims with Con Edison or insurance

Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Esposito speaks to building owners at a meeting held on Monday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Flatiron businesses owners impacted by last week’s steam blast were told on Monday night that they may have some recourse for their losses in the form of insurance claims or claims with Con Edison.

Representatives from the utility, the Office of Emergency Management, the Department of Health, Small Business Services and the Department of Environmental Protection offered updates on the ongoing investigation and clean-up effort during a meeting at the Clinton School in Union Square on Monday night.

Joseph Esposito, the commissioner for the Office of Emergency Management, said that as of Monday night, 17 buildings had been cleared for reoccupancy and the OEM announced that 16 additional buildings had been cleared by Wednesday morning, with 12 still needing to be cleaned and checked before they can be reoccupied.

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If emergency strikes, head to this Union Square high school

The Clinton School replaces Baruch College as a local evacuation center. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Clinton School at 10 East 15th Street has replaced the Baruch building on East 24th Street as the closest evacuation center for Gramercy residents for the 2017 coastal storm season, altering the location that has been in place for the neighborhood at least since Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Office of Emergency Management (OEM) press secretary Nancy Silvestri said that the evacuation centers are reevaluated every year to make sure the facilities are prepared to operate in the event of a disaster, and the previous site was swapped out for the Clinton School after discussions with Baruch and the City University of New York (CUNY).

Silvestri noted that the OEM has partnered with CUNY in the past to designate university buildings as evacuation centers but some of those sites were swapped out this year for various reasons.

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No smoke on Ave. C, despite city warning

By Sabina Mollot

On Thursday, November 5, anyone signed up for the city Office of Emergency Management’s email alerts for things like scheduled fireworks, shots being fired, explosions or other things typically related to film shoots, got notice of a city exercise involving smoke at 23rd Street and Avenue C.

The “theatrical smoke,” the email explained, was to be part of an exercise to be conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. However, like most city alerts, it came as the exercise was already set to be taking place.

By the time this reporter got over there, there was no sign of smoke and the staffers at the Solar One building at the FDR Drive and 23rd Street said they hadn’t seen any either.

We reached out to a spokesperson for OCME, who confirmed that the exercise did in deed happen, but the smoke was contained. The rep, Julie Bowlsor, explained that the alert was sent out in the event anyone did happen to see smoke. “That way they would know there’s no cause for alarm,” she said. She added that the exercise may have taken place in the general area of the aforementioned location rather than 23rd Street exactly.

Had the smoke actually been visible, it would have made an interesting visual for the hundreds of kids who were piling into the riverfront by Solar One at that time. The kids were students from the nearby United Nations International School, which was conducting a fire drill.

Upon hearing this, Bowlsor said, “We’re sorry it was not as theatrical as promised.”