Preparing New York City for Extreme Weather Events

Climate change and sea level rise are expected to increase the amount of major storm events worldwide. For coastal parts of New York City, the effects could be catastrophic. The city is trying to plan now for the storms to come.
February 15, 2011, 7am PST | Nate Berg
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WNYC takes a detailed look at how extreme weather events are likely to affect New York City, and what the government is doing to mitigate those impacts.

"Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Panel on Climate Change said an increase in the number of such devastating storms is "extremely likely."

John Nolon, a Pace University law professor with an expertise in sustainability law, said city officials have done a good job of at least describing the problem. "A lot of New York City is less than 16 feet above mean sea level," he said. "Lower Manhattan, some points are five feet above sea level. These areas are vulnerable and New York City knows it. Compared to other cities, which are only now beginning to wake up to this issue, I think New York City is much further ahead."

But what to do?

David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning & Sustainability, is charged with preparing for the dangers of climate change. He said the city is taking precautions like raising the pumps at a wastewater treatment plant in the Rockaways and building the Willets Point development in Queens on six feet of landfill. The goal is to manage the risk from 100-year storms – one of the most severe. The mayor's report says by the end of this century, 100-year storms could start arriving every 15 to 35 years."

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Published on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 in WNYC
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