New York Failed to Heed Advice from Local Storm Experts: Build Sea Walls to Avoid Floods – NYTimes.com

This article appeared on September 10, 2011 in the New York Times, calling for swift action on building disaster-mitigating infrastructure such as “sea walls” around New York City, to prevent Sandy-force hurricane damage post-Irene one year before. As this article shows, one year and almost two months before Superstorm Sandy hit, storm experts were already worried about how vulnerable New York and its environs were to increasingly-violent coastal storm events, now rendered even more so in Sandy’s wake. While some planning experts are calling for 100-year planning horizons, the city had been in the process of spending more than $2 billion over the course of 18 years, clearly a drop in the needs bucket, and too late for Sandy and its aftermath just one year later.

In this Aug. 28, 2011, file photo, a biker makes his way around a taxi stranded in floodwaters of Hurricane Irene, downgraded to a tropical storm, in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan, File)

Only a year ago, [city officials] point out, the city shut down the subway system and ordered the evacuation of 370,000 people as Hurricane Irene barreled up the Atlantic coast. Ultimately, the hurricane weakened to a tropical storm and spared the city, but it exposed how New York is years away from — and billions of dollars short of — armoring itself. “They lack a sense of urgency about this,” said Douglas Hill, an engineer with the Storm Surge Research Group at Stony Brook University, on Long Island. Instead of “planning to be flooded,” as he put it, city, state and federal agencies should be investing in protection like sea gates that could close during a storm and block a surge from Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean into the East River and New York Harbor.

via New York Faces Rising Seas and Slow City Action – NYTimes.com.

Sadly, Hill’s words have been proven true.

New Jersey agonizes over whether to rebuild shore – Salon.com

The phrase “Jersey Shore” is taking on a new meaning, emblematic of disaster recovery.

…environmentalists and shoreline planners urged the state to think about how – and if – to redevelop the shoreline as it faces an even greater threat of extreme weather.

“The next 50 to 100 years are going to be very different than what we’ve seen in the past 50 years,” said S. Jeffress Williams, a scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Woods Hole Science Center in Massachusetts.

The sea level is rising fast, and destructive storms are occurring more frequently, said Williams, who expects things to get even worse.

He and other shoreline advocates say the state should consider how to protect coastal areas from furious storms when they rebuild it, such as relocating homes and businesses farther from the shore, building more seawalls and keeping sand dunes high.

How to rebuild after the disaster is becoming an issue even as New Jersey assesses its damage.

via New Jersey agonizes over whether to rebuild shore – Salon.com.

FEMA Taps Private Vendors to Meet Sandy Victim’s Needs

FEMA…began to solicit bids for vendors to provide bottled water for distribution to Hurricane Sandy victims on Friday, sending out a solicitation request for 2.3 million gallons of bottled water at the FedBizOpps.gov website. Bidding closed at 4:30 pm eastern.

via FEMA Taps Private Vendors to Meet Sandy Victim's Needs.

Sandy Leaves Mass Transit Reeling, Millions Stranded in Greater NY | Fox Business

This is another casualty of poor disaster planning after Hurricane Sandy washed out the subway and surface mass transportation systems.

Trees and boats deposited by storm surges on railroad tracks and horrific floods caused by Hurricane Sandy threaten to keep millions of people reliant on public transportation stranded for days.

Efforts to analyze the scale and breadth of damage on railways, subways, roadways, trains and buses in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut began Tuesday, however it’s unclear when public transit will return to normal. 

via Sandy Leaves Mass Transit Reeling, Millions Stranded in Greater NY | Fox Business.

Lack Of Long-Term Planning, Underinvestment Hamper Energy Restore

Imagine a 100-year planning horizon. This is not a far-fetched idea, according to Brian Colle, a professor of atmospheric science at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

NEW YORK — Two days after Hurricane Sandy walloped the East Coast, electrical utility companies warned hundreds of thousands of customers from Long Island to New Jersey that they may be left in the dark for more than 10 days.

Critics said cost-cutting was holding back recovery efforts, and long-term planning around climate change and extreme weather is lacking. The the industry pointed to downed trees, knocked-out facilities and the devastating reach of the storm to explain the duration of outages.

“You cannot make infrastructure hurricane-proof. We had a nine-foot storm surge on top of high tide. You cannot protect your infrastructure against that sort of damage,” said Chris Eck, spokesman for Jersey Central Power & Light, which had 940,000 customers without power Wednesday.

But several utility and climate experts maintained that utilities, faulted in many places for their response to Hurricane Irene a year ago, should look further back in geological history, and further ahead toward the destabilizing effects of global warming, as they prepare for natural disaster.

In New York City, researchers warned in 2008 that the shoreline was highly vulnerable to a massive surge. Brian Colle, a professor of atmospheric science at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, said higher surges could have been foreseen by looking at geological history.

“If you’re planning for New York City to be around for more than 100 years — which I would hope so — then I think it’s prudent to have a flood mitigation plan or strategy that goes beyond 100 years,” Colle said.

via Hurricane Sandy Utility Outages May Be Worsened By Underinvestment, Lack Of Planning.