As expected, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has outlined a new plan to protect the city from increasingly intense storms and rising sea levels. The plan calls for hospitals and utilities to be prepared for once-in-500-years storms, rather than the previous once-in-100-years storms. As we all know, New York was caught somewhat by surprise by the strength and size of Superstorm Sandy’s storm surge that devastated parts of the city, flooded city streets and subways, and knocked out power for days.
Mayor Bloomberg has stated that initially the proposal will coast around $20 billion to implement over the next decade, and a lot more after that. Money will have to be invested in protecting the city’s electricity grid, strengthening buildings to withstand intense hurricane-strength storms and defending the shoreline.
In a statement, mayor Bloomberg said that although the plan will take a long time to carry out and be expensive, “This is urgent work, and it must begin now.” He stated that he doesn’t want to just pass the responsibility of creating a plan on to the next administration.
The mayor noted that about half of the $20 billion needed during the next 10 years would originate from federal and city funds, and has already been allocated. Another $5 billion would come from aid already approved by Congress in the wake of Sandy. The remaining $5 billion, and any additional funds after that, would have to be sourced elsewhere.
To put the high cost into some perspective, Bloomberg noted that Sandy has resulted in $19 billion in storm damage and loss of economic activity in New York. In future years, if another storm strikes, possibly a bigger and more intense storm, the cost could be enormous in relation to the cost of these protection measures.
Do you think New York should invest the funds now to protect the city from the expected intensification of extreme weather due to climate change?
A PDF of Mayor Bloomberg’s presenation can be found here.
Image: NASA, Superstorm Sandy