December 13, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg on NYC's response to Sandy

Mayor Bloomberg made a major speech on December 6th speaking about NYC's plans post Sandy. 

It is a great speech that covers many important points we all need to be thinking about. Here are a few snippets from his remarks. 

"Cities are not waiting for national governments to act on climate change. Whether or not one storm is related to climate change or is not, we have to manage for risks, and we have to be able to better defend ourselves against extreme weather and natural disasters. We don't know whether the next emergency will be a storm, a drought, a tornado or a blizzard, but we do know that we have to be better prepared for all of them."

New Yorkers recognized that the city had to survive and thrive, and we are only going to do that if we adapt. And in each case, New Yorkers put politics-as-usual aside and set a new course that would redefine the future of our city.

We believe that tomorrow can be better than today. And we know that it's up to us to make it so. And rather than talk about it and have plans that never get fulfilled, we're actually doing something.

We created a $2.4 billion green infrastructure plan that uses natural methods of capturing rainwater before it can flood our communities and overwhelm our sewage system. 

Even though the City has already revised the building code to strengthen standards for flood protection, we will now do it again. Here's the existing 100-year FEMA and 500-year FEMA flood maps - last updated in 1983. You can see the 100-year flood zone in yellow, and the 500-year flood zone extending out of it in orange. Now, here is where Hurricane Sandy actually flooded, in red.

We have to make our city more resilient in other ways, especially when it comes to our critical infrastructure.

I have directed our sustainability team to assess what it takes to make every essential network that supports our city capable of withstanding a Category 2 hurricane, or a record-breaking heat wave, or other natural disaster. That includes our transportation network, our power network, our gas network, our telecommunications network and our hospital network.

"Many of our key infrastructure networks are run by private companies as you know, but they have contracts, franchises, and licenses to provide public services – and the public does has a right to establish clear benchmarks for their performance in a disaster. ...all of them have been working with the Climate Adaptation Task Force we formed to find ways to harden our critical infrastructure. 

We cannot, in the future, have cell towers that have only eight hours of back-up battery power. That is just not acceptable in the world that we live today. The telephone is our lifeline, the telephone is a lifeline not just to business, but to our own physical security. It has to keep working.

"Record rainfalls in our watershed over the last three summers may sound good to you who are worried about our reservoirs being full, but because the rains were so strong, large portions of our water supply were out of commission for months at a time. 

Record heat in 2011 led to the highest energy-use ever recorded in our city. As I said before, the electric grid held up, but massive voltage reductions were required throughout our power network to keep the lights on. 

"So the work that we'll do will prepare our city for all types of extreme weather is just beginning – and it's not just storms.
"You don't have to be a believer in climate change to understand the dangers from extreme weather are already here. And the risk that climate change is driving these extreme weather patterns must compel us to act – both to prevent climate change and prepare for it."

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