EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — Coastal flooding in future storms could be exponentially worse than it was during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. That’s what new analysis of climate and weather data indicates, and it also suggests that coastal flood prevention measures already in place may need to be supplemented significantly to prevent devastating flooding, as seas continue to rise over the next six decades.
Already, in infrastructure measures like the $1.4 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency project, the city, in coordination with FEMA and other entities, is working to fortify flood-prone areas.
However, as Claudia Perez, a community activist in East Harlem, pointed out about the hospital’s flood wall, “[It’s] the first step. More has to be done.”
New analysis of climate and storm surge data by the National Hurricane Center and NPR draws a similar conclusion. It determined that over the next six decades, flooding at levels seen during Sandy are only going to become more widespread, possibly doubling or tripling the size of the areas that flood.
Perez, the community activist, said that people have to be aware of what could come. “With climate change, there’s so much going on,” she said, “we have to be prepared for it all.”
She organized residents of her NYCHA public housing complex, the George Washington Houses, as well as major infrastructure planning and emergency preparedness institutions, including the Pratt Institute, the Center for Community Development, the Climate Resilience Leadership Lab and others, to create an illustrated guidebook for emergencies.
Titled “Washington Houses Ready — Emergency Preparedness Pocket Guide,” the guidebook shows a wide variety of preparations and resources residents need to have well before a storm arrives.
“It’s sparking a conversation” that’s ongoing, Perez said, in an interview. “[We’re] learning to be prepared.
The NHC and NPR analysis also concluded that many public housing developments across the city are like Perez’s: they’re in or near what are becoming coastal flood plains as seas continue to rise. The analysis also concluded, by contrast, that some of the newest, most expensive real estate projects in the city are vulnerable since they’ve been intentionally developed along the water.