As the effects of climate change make themselves more and more apparent, a new NPR analysis of data from the National Hurricane Center predicts that massive storms like of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy could potentially flood over 50 New York City Housing Authority developments by the year 2080.
As first reported by Gothamist, “future storms, coupled with rising sea levels from climate change, will flood even more low-income New Yorkers’ apartments, exacerbating an ongoing affordable housing crisis.”
Although the city just released a new plan dubbed “Rainfall Ready NYC” that will help citizens understand whether they live in an area at risk of flooding or not, experts are still considering New York unprepared to deal with a storm as intense and dire as Sandy was a decade ago.
“Advocates and experts alike are urging the municipal, state, and federal governments to prepare New York City’s housing stock for coming storms,” reports Gothamist. “Some are calling for building upgrades, so New Yorkers aren’t trapped in powerless, hazardous apartments and houses the next time the storms arrive. Others say the time to depart is now.”
Specific data makes the situation utterly petrifying, with NPR positing that the number of New Yorkers directly threatened by flooding “could more than double from about 207,000 to 468,000 in 2080.”
Of course, the closer a building is to a body of water, the higher the chance it will be damaged by climate-related catastrophes, which is why the report also mentions the risk incurred by upscale neighborhoods that have developed by the East and the Hudson rivers. Alas, folks in affordable housing units tend to have fewer resources to deal with calamities of the sort, a fact that increases their levels of danger.
NPR mentions specific sections of the city’s waterfront, like Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, as “booming with development” projects at the moment. “The local community board estimates that 40,000 residents were added to both waterfront areas in the past decade—many in new high-rise towers right along the East River,” noted the outlet. “Despite sea level rise, this property ranks among the most valuable in the city—with median sales around $1.2 million last year.”
However, citing data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NPR warns that, within the next 30 years, “tide and storm surges will bring damaging flooding here at a frequency that will be more than 10 times as often as it does today.” Clearly, New Yorkers’ financial status won’t necessarily save them from the perils of climate change.
Whether the city, the state or even the federal government will pass any concrete measures to mitigate the effects of weather-related disasters is anyone’s guess. The least we can do, as citizens of the world, is to be prepared for the worst.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.