Bloomberg touts new initiatives to safeguard city from future storm
Superstorm Sandy may have damaged parts of New York, but it certainly didn't weaken it -- and when the city implements its plans to protect itself from future storms, the Big Apple will be even stronger, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday.
Speaking at a panel on the post-Sandy future of NYC, Bloomberg acknowledged it would be impossible to completely stormproof the five boroughs, but said the city will prepare for climate change and future storms with some simple initiatives, such as up-to-date environmental plans, new building codes and green programs.
"We may or may not see another storm like Sandy in our lifetimes, but I don't think it's fair to say that we should leave it to our children to prepare for the possibility," he said.
Bloomberg said officials are conducting an "after action review" of how the city dealt with Sandy.
The results won't be ready until the end of February, but Bloomberg and various agencies have already started changing their crisis strategies in Sandy's wake.
FEMA is expanding its 100-year flood zone map to include areas that experienced severe flooding and property damage, such as East Williamsburg and Howard Beach.
About two-thirds of all the homes damaged by Sandy were outside the current FEMA map, which was last updated 29 years ago.
New regulations will mandate that development projects in high-risk areas, such as Willets Point, have a higher elevation for the buildings to accommodate for potential flooding.
The mayor added that organic solutions, such as coastline marshlands and blue belt systems, were more feasible than a seawall, but his administration would study engineering ideas.
Bloomberg was adamant that the city will continue its plans to develop the Rockaways and New York's other coastal areas.
"Let's be clear: We are not going to abandon the waterfront," he said.
He added that New York always emerges as a better city after times of crisis, citing other disasters in the city's history -- including the Great Blizzard of 1888, which partially prompted the creation of the subway system -- as catalysts for change.
Former Vice President Al Gore spoke of climate change's threat at the panel sponsored by the Regional Plan Association and the New York League of Conservation Voters.