While many New Yorkers were able to enjoy the city’s beautiful snow (sort of) after last month’s blizzard, those in the Rockaways ended up reliving a familiar nightmare. A stark reminder of just how vulnerable the low-lying coast of New York still is, the recent storm caused the worst flooding to hit the Rockaways since Hurricane Sandy devastated the same area in 2012.

Flooding Rockaways Hurricane Sandy
Flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy in the Rockaways in 2012

As reported by WNYC, the late-January snow storm caused water to flood onto Rockaway roads along with the high tide. According to assistant professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology Phillip Orton, who studies storm surges, unusually high tides will become more and more common as sea levels continue to rise, resulting in more flooding, more often. “It’s not something dramatic,” he said. “But it is accelerating and every decade it’s gonna be worse.”

Related: Could This Sunken Forest Protect the Rockaways from the Next Superstorm?

In many ways, the Rockaways are still cleaning up after the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy almost four years ago. And although there have been many plans to construct storm-resilient infrastructure in the area, the residents are clearly frustrated with the pace of the implementation.

John Cori, a resident and co-president of Friends of Rockaway Beach, told WNYC that residents need more help from the city. “On 84th Street, these people are walking in plastic bags back and forth to their houses,” he said. “In Broad Channel, they’re underwater. On 120th Street, they’re underwater.”

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office told WNYC that the city has reinforced the beaches with more sand and more dunes, as well as upgraded bulkheads on Beach Channel Drive. But will those be enough to stave off future floods? Only time will tell.


Lead image via Bennett D. Bennett twitter