Perhaps lulled into a state of complacency from the bust that was Hurricane Irene the year before, we thought we would easily whether Sandy, too. That proved to be far from the truth.
Neighborhoods in our coastal areas were devastated – some totally destroyed and lives lost – and hundreds of thousands were left without power. Even if you were one of the lucky ones who had power and escaped without much damage, you were likely affected by the massive disruptions in the transit system or waited for hours in a line to get gas for your car.
Being resilient, the city has started the recovery process, but returning things to how they were before is only half of the job. Whether or not you believe in climate change, our weather is becoming increasingly more extreme and another storm like Sandy could become the norm, not the exception.
So the real work that lies ahead is how we prepare for that storm so that the devastation we saw post-Sandy will be minimized as much as possible.
On Monday, a federal task force release a report with some 69 policy recommendations on how coastal cities like New York can adequately prepare for natural disasters like a large hurricane, even as we recover from the last one.
Critical infrastructure improvements that deliver power, limit flooding and keep the city up and running following a natural disaster need to be taken into consideration now as the rebuilding process is underway, not put on a back burner until it is too late.
The federal report is a good start, and the Bloomberg administration has been proactive on the issue, releasing its own $20 billion plan for the city that includes everything from flood walls to storm-resistant neighborhoods.
The problem is that Bloomberg is leaving office in a few months, and New York will have a new mayor with his of her own agenda. Let’s hope whoever it is remembers what New York City was like in the weeks following Sandy, and they make critical infrastructure improvements a top priority.
The new mayor needs to take the work the Bloomberg administration and the federal government have already done and advance it. New York City can’t afford to go back to square one and start the process all over.