Planning for the next storm while recovering from the last one
For those living along the feebly protected shores of Lower Manhattan, 2013 passed with a collective breath-holding, dreading another superstorm that would rip through the painstaking reconstruction after Sandy had her way with the city in 2012. Last year, we were lucky. This year, we may not be.
While nature granted us a reprieve from brutal storms in 2013, reminders of Sandy remained everywhere, and spurred the city to think about protecting itself in new ways. Hopefully, we can continue that trend this year ? with an eye toward the next inevitable devastating hurricane that with any luck we won't see for a number of years; but the odds are, we will see it.
The only uncertainty beyond when the next Sandy will hit is how prepared we will be for it. Talk of natural barriers and seawalls will need to become reality. The de Blasio administration needs to prioritize funds and attention to the city's infrastructure and protection from natural disasters. Bloomberg's ambitious swan song of a development plan for "Seaport City" might eventually mitigate coastal flooding problems, but those solutions are many years away from becoming concrete. In the meantime, we need quick, effective stop gaps and strategies for dealing with rising waters.
The community also needs to continue its recovery. Whole swaths of downtown neighborhoods, like around the Seaport, were virtually wiped out and have rebuilt almost from scratch. It's important that people living side by side with these businesses keep walking through their doors, spending money and helping the areas revive. Without a thriving business community there, there will be less incentive for the city to invest in protections for those areas, which could end up facing the same destruction from the next storm.
If we're lucky again, that won't be this year.