How Ida avoided flood defenses in NYC
“The problem is, we’re seeing these effects and these changing storms, and the adjustments can’t keep up,” he said. Lauren McPhillips, a hydrologist at Penn State University studying urban flooding.
New York City is somewhat anticipating the thought of preparing for floods, according to McPhillips. Over the years, the city has put in more fluid architecture, such as green roofs and rain gardens, and upgraded pumps and canal pipes. These developments intensified after Sandy.
“We learned a lot of lessons from Sandy,” New York governor Kathy Hochul said in a press conference the morning after the storm. “We’re building strength; our shorelines have a much better shape than ever before. But where we have weakness is in our streets.”
Sandy looks great on any discussion about flooding in New York City. But the difference between the 2012 hurricane and Ida illustrates the complex flood threat the city faces from climate change. Sandy causes a strong storm, in which the sea rushes into the town. Ida poured inches by inches of water all over the town in a short period of time – a problem that could not be solved by sea barriers and other coastal protections.
While New York City and other coastal areas are especially vulnerable to sea level rise, any urban area can experience what is called pluvial banjir, the type that causes rainfall. “The way we do it in New York City is causing the flood problem,” he added Timon McPhearson, a New School urban climate stability researcher and a member of The New York City Panel on Climate Change.
Invisible surfaces such as concrete cause water to rush to go submerged instead of sinking into the ground as it can in grasslands or forests. And if there is enough water at the same time, the consequences can be fatal.
With the entry of researchers like McPhearson, New York City is making plans to improve its defenses against storm -induced flooding. A look ahead hurricane strength plan released in May 2021 with a citywide flood risk assessment and proposed solutions ranging from social strategies, such as educating local city councils on flood hazards, to engineering techniques such as with lots of green roofs and rain gardens.
And the city’s Department of Environmental Protection is considering plans for areas hit especially by the strongest storms. the Cloudburst Resiliency Study, completed in 2018, reviewed strategies to cope with severe rainfall events. Pilot plans for a frequently flooded area of Queens include green infrastructure such as walkways in the park, as well as a basketball court designed to hold back water during major flooding.
But implementing this or any other storm water management solution requires a lot of funding, and some require a decade of engineering. “We have to literally design the city to solve the problem,” McPhearson said. And he expects the price to be hefty-perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars. In some cases, he said, research has already suggested how to protect the city against flooding, but the accumulation of money and political will to be a hindrance.