Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Bloomberg says NYC will rebuild with climate change in mind

Story highlights

  • New York will look at levees, dunes and other options for protection
  • Mayor says New York has to be able to better defend itself against extreme weather
  • City will revise building codes, zoning and improve infrastructure, Bloomberg says
  • Groups will focus on addressing climate change and examine city's Sandy response

With his city still trying to bounce back from the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said New York must rebuild "smarter and stronger and more sustainably."

Bloomberg told reporters New York will prepare for natural disasters better by revising building codes, changing zoning requirements in some low-lying areas and making sure infrastructure can withstand a Category 2 hurricane or a heat wave.

"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," he said.

Global Public Square: Cities key to beating climate change

Bloomberg said that New York, which has more than 500 miles of shoreline, will consider building berms, dunes, jetties and levees to protect against surging seawater during bad storms.

Such a system could be expensive. Improvements to the New Orleans' flood protection system, which is 130 miles long and includes sea gates and flood walls, cost $14 billion.

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks on Thursday about long-term challenges facing the city after Sandy.

    New York doesn't have unlimited funds, the mayor said.

    "We have to live in the real world and make tough decisions based on the costs and benefits of risk-avoidance investments," he said. "Saying we're going to spend whatever it takes just is not realistic."

    The mayor compared post-Sandy New York to the one that faced security challenges after the September 11, 2001, attacks. The city quickly built the largest counterterrorism operation of any city in the world, he said.

    Drought-stressed trees face race to adapt

    The Economic Development Corporation of New York will take the lead on drawing up "concrete recovery plans for the communities Sandy hit hardest as well as a specific and comprehensive action plan to prepare our city for the climate risks we face," Bloomberg said.

    The mayor said the city has already strengthened building codes and will have to do so again. At the same time, he wants residents who rebuild to do so without being penalized if they build homes higher than current height restrictions.

    He said the city also needs to look at communications and energy infrastructure.

    The city should replace copper wiring for phones with fiber optics, he said, and cell phone towers need to have more than eight hours of backup power.

    Uncovering the secrets of Greenland's ice

    Deputy Mayors Linda Gibbs and Cas Holloway will look at how well the city was prepared logistically and how it reacted after Sandy hit, he said. Their report is due by the end of February, Bloomberg said.

    "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.

    Sandy slammed ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey, on October 29 after forming in the Caribbean and sweeping northward, killing a total of 182 people from Haiti to Canada.

      Superstorm Sandy

    • A mother learns that her newborn is part of a hospital evacuation. Facebook posts from a member of the HMS Bounty turn ominous. A man worries about the wind and rain, but another force of nature hits home.
    • In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, a storm that ripped so much apart, people have come together to provide help and hope.

      Tourists become volunteer rescue workers. The connected provide power outlets and Wi-Fi. Performers lift spirits. Photographers preserve images. Doctors work overtime to keep hospitals running and patients alive.
    • Despite a mangled phone screen, volunteer Candice Osborne is able to quickly respond to the needs of Superstorm Sandy victims with the help of social media.

      It has been in operation only since October 30, but the Facebook page for "Giving back to those affected by Sandy" has a longer timeline than most Facebook members.
    • Steph Goralnick

      It's important to remember that even as the effect of Superstorm Sandy recedes from the news, there are still devastated areas that are without electricity, heat or hot water.
    • Americares volunteers help clean out flood damaged homes in Queens, New York during Operation "Muck-Out"

      Our AmeriCares "Operation Muck-Out" team immediately got to work, ripping out the interior walls and removing the insulation until only wooden beams were standing.
    • exp point harlow murray sandy_00013211

      Ashley Murray became the first female president of Liberty Industrial Gases and Welding Supplies Inc. in Brooklyn. But now the family history Murray was charged with preserving is at risk of ending after Superstorm Sandy.
    • Jeannette Van Houten and other residents of Union Beach, New Jersey, have found family photos such as this one scattered after Superstorms Sandy. They want to return them to their rightful owners.

      The adage says "a picture is worth a thousand words," but when Leeann Lewandowski happened upon a photograph of her late mother on Facebook after her home was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy, she was speechless.