NEW YORK CITY — As New Yorkers prepared for the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy and made plans to evacuate their homes in low-lying coastal areas, many could not get through to the city's emergency planning website or 311.
DNAinfo.com New York reporters found that calls to 311 went either unanswered or rang busy just before 1 p.m. Sunday.
And many residents trying to figure out if they live in Zone A, for which Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a mandatory evacuation order Sunday morning, found the City's online Hurricane Evacuation Address Finder also out of order.
A City spokeswoman said the city was aware of problems with the website just after noon Sunday. The Mayor's Press Office instructed New Yorkers to check evacuation zones through a PDF of the City's Hurricane Evacaution map online.
A full list of shelters throughout the five boroughs was made available by the City Sunday afternoon.
The City was preparing for increased usage, Bloomberg said during a press conference.
Last year, the city's website www.nyc.gov was also overwhelmed by calls after the Mayor urged New Yorkers to visit the site to learn about evacuation calls and tips on how to stay safe during the storm.
"We think that we will be able to handle the capacity," Bloomberg said at a press conference Saturday, "but as I said yesterday, the record that we had in Hurricane Irene was 4-odd-million calls and uses of 311 service. Do not use 911 unless it's a real emergency. If you're using it and it's not an emergency, you're keeping somebody else who might try to get through."