NEW YORK (PIX11) — Nearly a decade after Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of New York City, more than a quarter of the almost $15 billion in federal funding allocated for recovery and resiliency remains unspent, according to a new report by city Comptroller Brad Lander.
“The climate crisis is moving far faster than we are,” said Lander in a statement accompanying the Thursday release of the study. “Superstorm Sandy was a wake-up call for the devastating risks that climate change poses to our city – but from the trudging pace of too many resiliency projects, it seems like we’re still asleep.”
Of the nearly $15 billion in federal grants issued to New York City to build back and gird against future hurricanes, only about $11 billion had been spent as of June, Lander’s audit found. As a percentage, the city’s utilization of its own capital funds for related projects is even more lacking, with just 13.3% of the $1.9 billion earmarked for East Side Coastal Resiliency improvements actually spent, according to the report.
Hitting in late October 2012, Sandy took the lives of 43 New Yorkers and left an estimated $19 billion in damage in its wake. But that sum could pale in comparison to future storms unless urgent action is taken to shore up infrastructure, according to the report.
Since Sandy, the citywide market rate value of real estate in the 100-year floodplain has surged past $176 billion, according to the report. Often cited in reference to storm resiliency and insurance rates, the 100-year floodplain refers to land that has at least a 1% chance of being flooded in a given year. By the 2050s, it’s projected that up to $242 billion in real estate will be at risk of coastal flooding.
The floodplain also presently includes about 17% of NYCHA public-housing buildings, and is projected to hit 26% by mid-century, the study found. That’s in addition to a significant portion of the city’s utility and transportation infrastructure, parkland, and industrial locations.
“New York City is at risk of losing a quarter of a trillion dollars in real estate to coastal flooding by midcentury, as well as significant swaths of our public housing, transportation, recreation, and industrial spaces,” said Lander. “We must accelerate the pace and complete the lifesaving infrastructure that communities from the Rockaways to Southern Brooklyn to Staten Island urgently need – and use new federal infrastructure and climate funds to protect vulnerable communities from the even wider range of climate risks that we’ve seen grow in the decade since Sandy.”
The comptroller issued proposals on how to rectify the situation, including picking up the pace on resiliency measures, improving tracking of projects and transparency of the funding that goes into them, and identifying sources of money for future improvements.