Hurricane Sandy hasn’t been front page news since 2012, but for many New York City residents, its devastating damage still affects their daily lives. The New York City Housing Authority released a report detailing its $3 billion effort both to recover from the storm and to ensure NYCHA’s residences are more prepared for extreme weather in the future. Hurricane Sandy damaged more than 200 buildings and left 60,000 residents without essential services like running water and power.
Despite financial and personal costs of the disaster, NYCHA director Shola Olatoye still found a way to see a bright side. In the report, she wrote, “It [Sandy] provided NYCHA with the opportunity to not just repair our housing but to rebuild better and smarter, significantly improving structural resiliency and better protecting residents from future disasters and climate change.” The NYCHA plans to transform these terrible circumstances into an opportunity to make critical improvements to its housing.
The report, “Recovery to Resiliency: NYCHA’s Hurricane Sandy Recovery Program”, divides the recovery plan into three sections, the first of which is titled “Protecting people and property” and deals with physical upgrades. This includes “recladding”–adding new materials to existing buildings– dry flood-proofing to seal off facilities from water, and wet flood-proofing, which allows some water to flow into facilities but moves essential infrastructures like generators to higher ground. The second section details plans on NYCHA grounds to improve connections between buildings and developments. It also addresses plans for job training for residents. In the third section, the report promises that NYCHA will, in addition to development, step up its engagement with outside community groups and local non-profits.
This detailed plan, however, is not without challenges, the most pressing of which is a need for funds. The report identifies a $287 million deficit by 2019 and addresses the importance of improving efficiency of asset management, as well as identifying outside sources of income. This is quite an enormous undertaking that will require a lot of work, very careful planning, and extremely efficient management, but the resulting improvements are a necessity for NYCHA residents.