- The New York City comptroller issued a new report on progress and changes since Superstorm Sandy.
- The report notes a sharp increase in the dollar value of real estate at risk from flooding.
- And it says projects aimed at protecting the city need to be built at a faster pace.
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Real estate values for properties in parts of New York City that sit in areas designated as high risk for flooding have risen 44% since Superstorm Sandy hit a decade ago, according to a new report from the city’s comptroller that says progress to protect vulnerable areas are moving too slowly.
New waterfront developments have helped push the rise in values, the report says, with properties in the city’s 100-year floodplain now estimated to be worth more than $176 billion.
The 100-year floodplain, or Special Hazard Zone, is set by flood maps produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA flood maps guide flood insurance regulations and requirements for properties under the National Flood Insurance Program and are used in community planning.
The Sandy report from Comptroller Brad Lander marks 10 years since the storm killed 43 people and caused an estimated $19 billion in damage by the city’s count.
In all, 159 deaths are blamed on Sandy in the U.S. and damage totaled more than $80 billion across a dozen states, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration post-storm writeup. It remains the fourth-costliest climate or weather disaster in the U.S. since NOAA started tallying billion-dollar disasters in 1980. Only hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Maria racked up higher damage totals, although Ian may soon be added to that list as well.
Lander’s 39-page report points out that the city has taken on dozens of projects to rebuild and fortify infrastructure including schools, hospitals and flood protection. But it contends that progress has been slow in some areas, and more needs to be done to move faster and better utilize federal aid money.
“We can’t afford to hit snooze,” Lander tweeted the day the report was issued, noting Sandy was a “wake up call for the devastating risks that climate change poses to our city.”
Here are some key takeaways from the comptroller’s rundown of Sandy progress.
-The monetary risk from storms will continue to go up as sea levels rise and the climate changes. An estimated $242 billion worth of properties in New York City, based on today’s market value, will be at risk of coastal flooding by the 2050s. That’s a 38% increase.
-Public housing is especially vulnerable. Seventeen percent of New York City Housing Authority buildings are in the 100-year-floodplain, with that number expected to grow.
-The city has spent $11 billion – or about 73% – of the $15 billion it received in federal aid for Sandy recovery and resiliency. That doesn’t include hundreds of millions in city money going into the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project in Manhattan, a 2.4-mile zone of raised greenspace, flood gates, walls and other protective infrastructure.
-Nearly half of the city’s industrial and manufacturing infrastructure for waste transfer stations, construction businesses, warehouses and distribution centers is in the floodplain. So is two thirds of the city’s open space and outdoor recreation areas.
-Federal aid money from another storm is on its way. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has earmarked nearly $188 million in aid money for New York City’s recovery from Hurricane Ida. Remnants of the storm brought record rainfall to parts of the city, where at least 11 people died in flooded basement apartments. Like Sandy, Ida is prompting a deeper look at how the city prepares for and responds to major weather events.
-The report recommends the city step up the pace of recovery and resiliency projects, some of which aren’t slated to be completed until 2030.
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