March 3, 2021

DealBook: As Irene Approaches, Banks Prepare for the Worst

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday looks at the path of Hurricane Irene.Brendan Mcdermid/ReutersA trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday looks at the path of Hurricane Irene.

As Hurricane Irene travels up the East Coast, New York is steeling itself for disaster. Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the state on Thursday, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has urged city residents of low-lying areas to prepare to evacuate their homes.

Wall Street, too, is entering the bunker.

Many of New York’s largest investment banks are headquartered in midtown Manhattan, and thus fall outside the city’s designated flood zones. Bank of America’s 1 Bryant Park skyscraper, Citigroup’s 399 Park Avenue building, Morgan Stanley’s 1585 Broadway bureau, and JPMorgan Chase’s 270 Park Avenue offices are all outside the zones. Credit Suisse’s tower, located a little further south at 11 Madison Avenue, also carries a “no zone” designation.

But the headquarters of Goldman Sachs, located at 200 West Street in Battery Park City, is located in Zone A, putting it at greater risk for flooding should Hurricane Irene strike the city with force. So is Deutsche Bank’s 60 Wall Street headquarters, and American Express’s office in the World Financial Center.

A Goldman spokesman declined to detail the bank’s hurricane preparations. An American Express spokeswoman could not immediately be reached.

Some midtown banks have satellite offices in high-risk zones. The Tribeca offices of Citigroup, located near the Hudson River at 388 Greenwich Street, are in Zone A, as is Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, also in the World Financial Center.

Danielle Romero-Apsilos, a Citigroup spokeswoman, said, “Citi is committed to providing uninterrupted service to our clients during the storm and seeks to minimize any possible impact.”

Citigroup also sent a memo to employees on Thursday detailing its recommendations for storm preparation, including bringing lawn furniture and garbage cans inside and stocking up on bottled water.

“We expect Citi office locations to remain in operation as usual. However, any site-specific closures will be determined locally and communicated through standard communications channels, such as through email and phone call trees. Remember that cell service can be disrupted during periods of high demand or disasters. Therefore, if you are unsure about your particular location, you should contact your manager,” the memo said.

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