June 6, 2013
By Neal Tepel
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Despite the heroic efforts of New York’s public agencies and private entities in response to Superstorm Sandy, the extreme weather event exposed troubling vulnerabilities that threaten the City’s long-term economic vitality, according to “Risk & Resiliency after Sandy,” a new report by the New York Building Congress Task Force on New York City Storm Preparedness, which was chaired by former Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch.
In particular, the Task Force found that insufficient power and telecommunications reliability, uneven emergency response, vulnerable infrastructure and antiquated building systems contributed to the devastation wreaked by Superstorm Sandy.
Mr. Ravitch said, “The physical damage inflicted by the Storm was devastating, and questions were raised about New York’s future given that commercially important parts of the City were located within the flood zone. In the aftermath of Sandy, the City is left with a number of uncertainties, most notably relating to the condition of its power grid. New York City must assume that this kind of storm will occur more frequently and be far better prepared in the future.”
“The lack of adequate emergency planning and procedures, a significant issue since 9/11, continues to be a stumbling block for the City,” said Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson. “Resolution of this issue is imperative in order to truly prepare for the next emergency.”
Mr. Anderson added, “Superstorm Sandy also exposed troublesome vulnerabilities in New York City’s building stock, its private utilities and telecommunications networks, and its major transportation and infrastructure systems,” added Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson. “What worked reasonably well in the past was shown to be simply not good enough.”
New York City needs to revise and standardize its building codes, as it did after 9/11, and expedite acceptance of new FEMA flood maps. The new standards would require new construction and major renovations to be designed to withstand a one-in-200-year storm.