Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive storm in New York’s history, and scientists agree that climate change made the storm more intense than it would otherwise have been. Sandy showed how close to home the effects of climate change can hit.
Sea-level rise and the increased frequency of heavy precipitation events are an emerging threat for low-lying areas of New York. These changes will transform vulnerable communities, especially since so much of New York is in a flood zone, and require extensive investments in resiliency.
As seen during Hurricane Sandy, flooding events can compromise infrastructure that is not designed to withstand unprecedented weather conditions. It is estimated that by 2100, New York’s shoreline will rise between 18 to 50 inches above the current level, creating billions of dollars worth of damage.
That’s why it is important to redesign and develop New York’s infrastructure to protect vulnerable communities.
States like New York, New Jersey, and Maryland are investing in resilient infrastructure, which is the adaptive design of structures with consideration to future impacts of climate change. These preventative measures can help bolster coastlines, strengthen infrastructure, and reinforce flood zones. In New York, examples of resilient infrastructure might include elevating buildings for flood protection, creating berms to keep rising seas out, or restoring coastal wetlands to mitigate sea-level rise and heavier precipitation.
Rebuild by Design is focused on addressing these potential threats and implementing more climate-resilient infrastructure in New York. Its mission is to form collaborations between community groups, local government, nonprofits, and businesses to build sustainable and durable cities. Connecting with these groups will develop a greater understanding of the structural vulnerabilities to extreme weather that communities currently face and how they may be exacerbated by the impacts of climate change.
Rebuild by Design was created as a design competition in 2013, largely in response to Hurricane Sandy and the desire to better equip cities against future extreme weather events. They work with communities and urban planners to propose and begin work on Sandy-rebuilding projects, including proposals to protect lower Manhattan and Hunts Point from floodwaters and severe storm events.
Alongside these efforts, Rebuild by Design is working to create a State Resilient Infrastructure Fund for building climate-resilient infrastructure in New York. The Resilient Infrastructure Fund would be an important tool to organize and fund projects that help New York adjust to a future of warmer temperatures, higher seas, heavier precipitation, and more extreme storms. NYLCV is a strong supporter of creating the Fund and is working with Rebuild by Design and other environmental groups to make it part of next year’s State budget.
Organizations like Rebuild by Design are critical in creating a sustainable defense system against the current and future effects of climate change. NYLCV looks forward to working with the organization to help build a more resilient New York.