Escaping From New York City. Is It Really a Viable Concept in a SHTF?

by suburban on June 16, 2011 · 9 comments


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Live in New York City?  Visiting NYC this summer?  Work in New York City?  Going into the City for dinner, show, happy hour, etc.?Guess what, today we explore ways to get out of the city in the event of a SHTF, prior to roadblocks, martial law, tunnels being closed, etc.  Understand that if the SHTF in NYC, that the Port Authority Police and the NYC Police are well positioned to be mobilized in such a way as to block the bridges and tunnels.   In some cases tunnels will be very dangerous to navigate, and bridges may be considered targets.  It’s all a crap shoot, honestly, however.  

If you are thinking you are going to walk though the Mid Town Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, or Holland Tunnel to get home if there is an emergency, you may be sadly mistaken.  If you think you are going to walk through the path tunnel to get to Jersey City, NJ or Hoboken, NJ, you may be sadly mistaken.  Here is why… In an emergency, there may actually be no electricity, and it may be a blackout situation.  If this is the case the pumps that circulate water away from the tunnels may actually flood.  I know for a fact there are backup generators, but who knows how often they are tested, and if there may or may not be some other problem with the system if it stops and has to restart… In fact in August 2007 the NYC subways were not running at all because the transit system was flooded and disabled due to too much rain.  This easily stranded hundreds of thousands of people trying to commute to work.  This is not the first time this has happened either.  I can remember another time in 2005 when I was working in the city as well that the subways were shut down due to rain prior to rush hour.  This is just one example.  A small one, but one, none – the – less.

Driving out of the city in a SHTF.  Hmmm… I have to believe the answer here is: probably not going to happen quickly…  Everyone that can get out by vehicle will call their garage to prep their car to leave.  It will be a mass exodus to the three tunnels and several bridges… I would suspect, that if traffic is let through the tunnels in a SHTF, chances are it will be emergency (FEMA) and other government traffic, and it will have priority.  If foot traffic is let through, you may be able to hoof it or bicycle your way through, assuming there are not wall to wall people trying to get through.  With the population of NYC doubling daily because of commuters coming to work every day, I have to believe bridges and tunnels will be wall to wall people should foot traffic be allowed through.  The same goes for the ferry’s that go to Wehawken, NJ, Staten Island, and to the NJ Shore.  On 9/11 the city shut down the bridges and tunnels to all traffic to all people.  I would suspect it would happen again.

I have mentioned in previous posts that I, at one time was looking at possibly getting an inflatable raft and storing it in a self storage unit with some gear to work my way across the Hudson River.  What I had to realize was there were multiple water ways I would need to cross, and therefore would have to carry the raft several miles with my Get Home Bag hoping I would not damage the raft.  This limited the size of the raft I could use.  It would have to be small enough to be manageable yet large enough to get a 250 lb guy across the river(s) safely.  Clearly not a perfect plan…  Not to mention that in a SHTF, I am sure the NYPD and Coast Guard would be going up and down the river non stop.  A dingy going across the river might look pretty suspicious as well.  Again.  Not a perfect plan.

I have talked quite a bit about getting the hell out as soon as possible if you have the means and can.  There is limited time being in “the city” to get out and get out safely.  If it is a light situation, you may want to bug in.  However, if you are ambitious, have the preps in your BOB, you may want to head up town WAY uptown.  Literally about 40 miles from the city to Bear Mountain Bridge if you are looking to get to NJ.  The George Washington Bridge is too much of a target in a man made disaster situation… Bear Mountain bridge will be less of a target and a safer area to cross over.  If it is a man made disaster, the tunnels could also be full of toxic gas or biological agent(s).

Do you want a good representation of what it will be like getting out of the city if there is an issue… Get in your car at Friday at 5:00 and go west or north.  Head to the Catskills or heat to the NJ shore, and make sure it is summer time when you do it…  The NJ shore is 50 miles from me, and by leaving at the wrong time on a Friday evening or a Saturday morning it has taken me 3 1/2 hours to go 50 miles.  Getting off the parkway to take the back roads routes won’t do much good either, because you will not be the first one with that idea.  Found that out first hand too… This would be considered light traffic in a SHTF situation… And forget it, if there is an accident blocking the road during an SHTF Bug Out scenario…

Back in the day I was looking at a Zodiac raft purchasing a trolling motor, and using that to get across the river(s)…  Here is another link:

I have to believe the concerns are similar whether you are in Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, etc.  How would you get out of your city?  If you have any other ideas or ways of getting out of the New York City during or in a SHTF… Please comment.  It benefits everyone…


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

MasterPo June 16, 2011 at 7:59 am

Don’t make the common mistake of thinking NYC is only Manhattan – its not! NYC is Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx. People in Brooklyn and Queens also have the same issue ( SI and Bronx to a lesser extent IMO). And people on Long Island have it worse since they MUST pass through Brooklyn or Queens to get off LI.

FWIW on 9/11 the Queens tunnel was open but police on the Manhattan side required all vehicles to fill up on passengers before going through. Don’t know if this was official policy or just the cops on the scene using their judgement.


Sincotto June 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

Get a black drysuit and some micro Oxygen tanks, travel at night going under the water


suburban June 16, 2011 at 10:45 am

Oh man… I would, but I don’t dive. It is a skill I have yet to learn, as well as having an issue with hyperventilating when I snorkel…. Not to mention I wouldn’t even know how many knots the current flows in the Hudson River… Good idea, and something to consider, however.


jim June 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Sea-Doo Seascooter


MasterPo June 16, 2011 at 11:32 pm

All cute ideas. But even if you do cross the river you’ll need transportation on the other side.


suburban June 17, 2011 at 7:29 am

@MasterPo. Yes. I live seven miles from the Lincoln Tunnel. I figured in the worst case, I could hoof it on foot after crossing two rivers. There is a Swamp in my way however and that would have been a pain in the ass until I hit some solid ground…


Prepperjim June 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm

All I can say is that the Houston Rita evacuation was a big mess and I spent 12 hours go go about 20 miles. Only when I took a chance to go east instead of north did I break through. Had I not made that decision, I would have run out of gas.

Frankly, if you got stuck on Manhattan island, you would probably be screwed.


Suburban Survivalist June 17, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I’d just move, NYC isn’t worth it. I live near DC and have been looking for a job west of the Mississippi for awhile…

Also, don’t dive w/oxygen, it’s toxic under water. Use air.


MasterPo June 20, 2011 at 9:02 am

Moving isn’t practical for a great many people. 🙁


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