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New York City Agencies Brace for Hurricane Joaquin

 Workers for the Parks Department fill the pedestrian paths of the berms in South Beach with sand ahead of Hurricane Joaquin.
Workers for the Parks Department fill the pedestrian paths of the berms in South Beach with sand ahead of Hurricane Joaquin.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

NEW YORK CITY — As Hurricane Joaquin — now a Category 4 storm — travels north along the Atlantic coast, city agencies are preparing for severe weather conditions expected to affect New York City this weekend.

Earlier this week, NYC Emergency Management activated the city's Flash Flood and Coastal Storm Emergency Systems, which are intended to "ensure a quick, effective and coordinated response," to potential weather-related emergencies, the agency said.

"We have triggers in place to activate the emergency plans anytime there is a forecast of potential landfall north of North Carolina," NYCEM Assistant Commissioner for Planning and Preparedness Megan Pribram told DNAinfo.

The emergency plans are part of NYCEM's effort to "make sure all (city) agencies are getting the most up-to-date information on a regular basis," Pribram said.

On Thursday, NYCEM opened its Emergency Operations Center, where representatives from a number of city agencies, including the NYPD, FDNY and MTA "sit in a room, working together, watching the storm closely and making sure we are ready," Pribram said.

Also on Wednesday, the Parks Department began fortifying parts of the city's coastline that were hit the hardest by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, including the Rockaway Peninsula and Staten Island.

On Staten Island, Borough President James Oddo announced Thursday that gaps between coastal berms are being filled with sandbags, and that vehicles and other equipment are being relocated from beaches and low areas, in preparation for the weekend's severe weather.

In a statement Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he felt confident New York State would be better prepared for the weekend's severe weather than it was in 2012.

“As Hurricane Joaquin makes its way up the East Coast, New York is in a much better position today than we have ever been before,” Governor Cuomo said.

“We are activating the State’s Emergency Operations Center and positioning critical resources across the state as we learn more about this developing storm. I urge New Yorkers to exercise caution and stay  informed in the coming days.”

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Hurricane Joaquin was upgraded from a Category 3 to a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, the National Hurricane Center announced. A Category 4 storm is labeled "major" and may cause "catastrophic damage," including uprooted trees, power outages, and battered homes, according to NHS.

On Thursday evening, Mayor Bill de Blasio will hold a press conference at the Office of Emergency Management to discuss emergency preparedness for Hurricane Joaquin, according to the Mayor's office.

NYCEM is encouraging New Yorkers to register for Notify NYC, the city's official source of information about emergency events.