When it rains, it pours in New York City due to inadequate leadership and outdated infrastructure. Every time a storm hits New York City, our subways, streets, and buildings crumble and flood due to failures in preparedness and inadequate storm-resilient investments. We must properly prepare and improve our City for future storms.
To improve our City, we must take action immediately, and I have a 4-step plan to deliver actionable improvements.
Over the past two months, two massive storms have hit New York City, resulting in historic flooding and widespread destruction throughout the five boroughs. However, much of this destruction could have been prevented with proper preparedness and storm-resilient infrastructural investments. In early July of this year, New York City experienced a severe storm that resulted in widespread flooding and destruction—but our City’s leadership failed to learn from its past mistakes, resulting in repeated damage during an early September storm. As New York City continues to suffer from major storms, we must take real action to mitigate the effects of future natural disasters. To deliver on this goal, I am announcing my 4-step plan to improve our City’s storm preparedness:
- Expand the Capacity and Improve the Maintenance of New York City Drainage: To prevent flooding in our subways and streets, New York City must expand its drainage capacity and conduct diligent, comprehensive cleanings of our drainage systems in anticipation of impending storms. When drainage systems are clogged by garbage, debris, and pollution, they are more prone to flooding. Currently, stormwater drainage and management are handled by the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Prior to any major storm, I will require the NYC DEP to publicly confirm that all drainage systems are clear, clean, and ready for the impending natural forces. At the same time, my Administration will expand drainage capacities in communities that have historically lacked adequate drainage, including Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. This dual approach will reduce the effects of natural storms and flooding.
- Construct and Retrofit Buildings to Be Flood-Proof: Through tax credit programs, New York City should incentivize new construction and retrofitting to ensure that buildings are flood and stormproof. Stormproof construction strategies include dry floodproofing (e.g., installing temporary flood barriers and berms), wet floodproofing (e.g., utilizing flood-resistant building materials), constructing buildings above water line elevation, elevating mechanical equipment, and coordinated development site elevation (e.g., Arverne by The Sea in Rockaway Peninsula). These strategies will reduce the damage and effects of flooding in our communities.
- Implement A Timely and Efficient Flood Warning System: A flood warning message should not reach residents while their already knee deep in stormwater. Our current flood warning system is a dollar short and a day late. The Mayor must act like a leader and notify New York City residents in advance about the magnitude of impending storms. New Yorkers are busy with their own families, jobs, and lives—and are not always staying up to date with weather forecasts. To ensure that every resident is adequately prepared for storms, the Mayor must hold press conferences and use alert systems several hours in advance of storms.
- Expand the Construction of Bulkheads, Seawalls, Levees, Floodwalls, and In-Water Surge Barriers in Flood-Prone Communities. New York City must construct more protective structures to prevent flooding in our low-lying communities. Currently, New York City severely under-invests in these protective technologies, leaving its communities vulnerable to repeated flooding. For example, New York City does not feature a single flood surge barrier, despite the proven efficacy of these structures in protecting against storm surges. By investing in these structures, New York City will protect its communities and save millions of dollars in rehabilitative efforts after each storm.