On Superstorm Sandy Anniversary, New York is Ranked Most Vulnerable U.S. City [Newsweek]

By Nina Burleigh for Newsweek on October 29, 2017

Superstorm Sandy slammed the coasts of New Jersey and New York five years ago Sunday, leading to 157 deaths, 51 square miles of flooding in New York City alone and an estimated $50 billion in damage. On the anniversary of that catastrophe, researchers for Climate Central have ranked New York as the U.S. city most vulnerable to future storm surges and sea level rises, with 426,000 people living on land that is imperiled through 2050.

Not only is the world’s financial and arts center at least as vulnerable to future mega-storms as it was back then, but regional and federal policymakers don’t yet even have a comprehensive protection plan on the drawing board, let alone funding for that necessity.

On the contrary, local leaders could be seen as simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, with piecemeal local plans to plant more trees and build berms, neither of which would protect the area from storm surge inundations of 20 feet or more that could be expected in conjunction with extreme weather events over the next two or three decades, according to the privately funded National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure (NICHI).

Climate Central looked at cities now within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 10-year floodplain and also in 2050, after a predicted three-foot sea level rise. In both sets of data, New York City was twice as vulnerable as the second-ranked city, Miami, because of its much bigger population and its low-lying geography.

“What we are facing now is a new reality,” said Bill Golden, president of the NICHI. He also pointed out that the National Academy of Sciences has predicted that what were once termed 500-year storms will now occur every 25 years, and 12 out of 13 of the worst storms of the last 100 years have occurred since 2004. “Extreme storms, rising sea level and aging infrastructure present a clear and present danger to public safety and national security,” he said.

Continued at Newsweek.com


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