Before ‘the next Sandy,’ New York City mayor says “plan”

Before ‘the next Sandy,’ New York City mayor says “plan”

(The Center Square) – This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy hitting the New York City area, and Mayor Eric Adams said the city will need the federal government’s help preparing for the next massive storm.

crashing waves
Photo by Ray Bilcliff on

On Wednesday, Adams said New York has about $8.5 billion in critical infrastructure projects, such as moveable flood walls, that he wants the federal government to cover. That may sound like an astonishing amount, but the city’s losses from the storm that killed 44 people were estimated to be $19 billion.

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“Let’s think in advance. Let’s act in advance. Let’s build in advance,” the mayor told reporters. “For every $1 spent preparing for natural disasters, we save $6 we spend picking up the pieces afterward. So I’ll say it again. We need regular, reliable resiliency funding to bolster our defenses, prevent damage, and save lives and money.”

On Wednesday, Adams and other city leaders broke ground on the Brooklyn Bridge-Montgomery Coastal Resilience floodwall project in Lower Manhattan’s Two Bridges neighborhood.

The $522 million project includes building hidden walls along public waterfront spaces. Those walls can then be flipped up to protect low-lying areas from flooding similar to what happened a decade ago.

“Sandy was not just a storm. It was a warning,” Adams said. “It was letting us know what the future looks like. Storms like Sandy, they were once estimated by scientists to occur once every 100 years. That has changed. They’re becoming stronger and more frequent due to our rapidly warming planet. We don’t have another hundred years to prepare. We have to prepare now.”

While Adams and city officials are calling on Washington to help, they also came under fire from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who released an audit report Thursday that uncovered issues with many of the city’s mitigation efforts.

In March, New York City Emergency Management had 755 actions listed it was taking or had completed as part of its hazard mitigation plan. However, 412 actions didn’t have completion dates, and 403 did not have start dates. More than a third also didn’t include cost estimates.

Further, the audit found that the evacuation and maritime emergency transportation plans were last updated nine years ago.

“It is not a matter of if, but when, another massive storm like Sandy will hit New York City, potentially crippling its infrastructure and endangering lives,” DiNapoli said. “The city needs to be ready, but inadequate coordination and limited centralized oversight of the city’s disaster preparations is very concerning.”

Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol responded to the audit, saying he “respectfully disagreed” with several findings.

For example, he said the missing date or cost estimates are “misleading” because many mitigation items are just proposed ideas meant to foster more conversation about preparedness.

He also said the department is working with a local university to update the evacuation plan. While there may not be any formal documentation of updates, Iscol added that they have been reviewed yearly.

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