July 2, 2013
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently introduced a comprehensive plan, A Stronger, More Resilient New York, to protect the city from coastal storms like Hurricane Sandy that are expected to increase in intensity as the climate changes and sea levels rise.
The plan includes over 250 recommendations for improving the resilience of citywide infrastructure, buildings, and communities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The plan was developed by the NYC Special Initiative for Rebuilding & Resiliency (SIRR), which Mayor Bloomberg convened in December 2012.
The plan is unique in its scope and depth. First, the plan provides a comprehensive assessment of Sandy’s impacts and the systems that failed during the storm. This assessment will provide a useful baseline for monitoring the performance and effectiveness of resiliency measures that are implemented during rebuilding. Second, the report looks at opportunities for improving the City’s resilience through coastal protection measures, building design and construction, and insurance at both a citywide scale and neighborhood scale. Third, it specifically examines the resilience of critical sectors (utilities, healthcare, telecommunication, and wastewater), and particularly vulnerable communities (Brooklyn-Queens, Staten Island, and Southern Manhattan). Finally, the plan addresses questions about how to fund and implement the bold initiative.
For the first line of defense, the plan proposes 37 specific initiatives for creating an integrated flood protection system along nearly all of the City’s coastline, including: beach nourishment, armoring, bulkheads, tide gates, dune creation, offshore breakwaters, and living shorelines. Additional proposals would secure both electricity and liquid fuels supplies by redesigning the regulatory framework for New York City’s energy systems, hardening utility and liquid fuels supply infrastructure to withstand storms, and reconfiguring utility networks to be more redundant and resilient.
Other recommendations include initiatives to:
The initial cost of the plan is estimated at $20 billion. Approximately half of the initial cost has already been allocated, including $5.5 billion in existing funding from the City’s capital plan, $1.8 billion in disaster relief funding allocated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development through an appropriation to the Community Development Block Grant program, and $2.3 billion of additional federal aid allocated following Hurricane Sandy. After an additional $5 billion of anticipated future federal aid, the report identifies a funding gap of approximately $4.5 billion, but the plan includes potential strategies for raising those funds.