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#PrepTalkNYC {Click here to listen to episode 85}   

As the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches, New York City Emergency Management staff members reflect on the historic storm and the unprecedented impacts New York City faced. The storm forever changed New York City and was a pivotal moment in creating change to combat climate change and the increase in extreme weather events.

On this episode of “Prep Talk” Herman Schaffer, deputy commissioner of community engagement and Heather Roiter, assistant commissioner of risk and recovery at NYC Emergency Management, discuss the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Sandy and the role that NYC Emergency Management played during the preparedness, response and recovery stages. They also discuss lessons the City has learned, programs implemented since the destructive storm hit, and how they prepare for future storms.

“Leading up to the storm, a lot of my concern was making sure that people were heading the message,” said NYC Emergency Management Deputy Commissioner of Community Engagement Herman Schaffer. “Making sure people knew what their [hurricane evacuation] zones were and react I think is super important to our messaging, and people don’t know their zones ahead of time.”

“You want to be cautious and use the best information possible,” said NYC Emergency Management Assistant Commissioner of Risk and Reduction Heather Roiter. “There is always going to be a big window of uncertainty when you have to make these big critical decisions [to evacuate].”

You can listen to the latest episode on SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, and Spreaker.    


Herman Schaffer is the Deputy Commissioner for the Community Preparedness Bureau at the New York City Emergency Management. In this role, he oversees the agency’s community-based programs and initiatives, which focus on enhancing and promoting emergency planning, preparedness, and resiliency. Prior to joining NYC Emergency Management in 2005, Mr. Schaffer was a case manager with Safe Horizon, connecting victims of the September 11th attacks with local and federal resources to assist with their recovery. He also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia where he helped rural communities develop clean water and hygiene education programs.

Heather Roiter is the Assistant Commissioner of Risk Reduction and Recovery at NYC Emergency Management. Since joining in 2007, Roiter has led the development and execution of various plans and tools related to emergency management, evacuation, and risk reduction. This ongoing effort has given her technical expertise in assessing NYC’s risks from hazards and leading the City’s coordination for over $250 million in FEMA hazard mitigation grants. Her other initiatives include the Interim Flood Protection Measures Program to deploy temporary flood protection at more than 55 sites and launching the country’s first web-based Hazard Mitigation Plan for a local jurisdiction in 2019. She holds a B.S. in Demography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a M.S. in Urban Planning from Columbia University.