Hurricane season started last week, and the NOAA is predicting that it will be one of the worst the U.S. has ever seen. Considering what happened to New York in the last super storm, we can’t help but ask ourselves whether the city is ready for another one – and if what the Intelligencer concludes is true, we’re not. They recently did some research into the question on everyone’s minds and found some very disturbing data points. Read on to see the five major areas of hurricane preparedness that NYC is currently lacking .
The first area of concern is subway flooding. Though the MTA has advanced solutions to stop subway flooding in the works, they won’t be implemented for months and even years. Meanwhile, the city will have to rely on temporary measures like putting up temporary walls around subway stairwells or plugging entrances with inflatable bladders. These temporary measures are no guarantee that the subways won’t get flooded and force the city to come to a halt.
The second area of concern is power outages. Con Ed has already put in place $400 million worth of improvements into the electrical infrastructure. And it plans to put another $1 billion into improvements over the next four years. But in the meantime, the city will have to rely on the existing system and hope it holds out if there’s another hurricane.
The third area of concern is hospital preparedness. Though there were no fatalities during Hurricane Sandy due to hospital evacuations, there have been virtually no measures taken to improve hospital preparedness if another hurricane hits. Administrators blame federal cutback to hospital preparedness funds, among other things.
The fourth area of concern is the availability of gas during an extreme weather event. So far, incentives have been offered to gas station owners to keep backup generators on site so as not to disrupt gas availability. And Governor Cuomo pushed through a proposal in the state that actually requires 1,450 gas stations in the metropolitan area to outfit themselves with backup generators. But aside from this, not much is in place to ensure a steady gas supply in case of a weather crisis.
The fifth and final area of concern is residential safety along the shoreline. Certain stretches of sand along the southern coast will be, or already have been, fortified with HESCO barriers and TrapBags. And sand lost to Sandy will be trucked in by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, beginning this month, a process that won’t be complete until 2014. Meanwhile, residents along the shore will be vulnerable. The city is also planning on announcing an improved evacuation plan of vulnerable residents that will cover an additional 640,000 people. The only problem with evacuation plans is that there is no way to force residents to leave their homes for safer ground.
Though New York is learning lessons from Sandy and scrambling to improve its resiliency against future storms, the reality of actually upgrading existing infrastructure is proving to be costly and will take time. Meanwhile, hurricane season is already underway and extreme weather may strike whether the city is ready or not.
Photos from Imgur, Andrea Booher (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons and by Sugar Pond (http://flickr.com/photos/sugarpond/858527503/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons