Marc Ricks, senior advisor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, spoke of the city’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR), a six-month effort to make communities in New York City affected by Sandy more sustainable.
“How do we prepare the city for the impacts of climate change?” Ricks asked the crowd gathered at P.S. 58 last Thursday night.
Last week, the focus was on the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront, one of five areas SIRRis focused on. “We want to make sure all voices are heard and do as much outreach as we can,” said Ricks.
Officials from FEMA, Health Department, and Department of Environmental Protection joined residents as they discussed rebuilding Brooklyn’s waterfront communities of Red Hook, Gowanus and Sunset Park.
“I am glad that the city is willing to help us find the right investments to make the Gowanus neighborhood better and safer,” said Councilman Brad Lander, who attended the workshop.
Residents chimed in on what they felt were the weaknesses and strengths of their neighborhoods. Lack of wetlands, floodgates, and evacuation plans for waterfront communities were major problems exposed by Sandy.
Gowanus resident Tim Evans said that while he was not affected directly by Sandy, he had “friends whose homes were completely wiped out after the storm.”
He noted that some residents in Red Hook public housing were left in their apartments with no water, electricity or heat for one to three weeks after Sandy.
“Their needs to be an evacuation plan for those communities,” said Evans. “The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) needs to have a backup plan.”
SIRR will take more comments from the public at Outreach@nycsirr.org. Drawing from the feedback, city planners will release a report on rebuilding the impacted communities in May.