Over $129 billion worth of New York City property at risk from flooding

East Sustainability
Lower Manhattan during Sandy. (Flickr / WarmSleepy)

Lower Manhattan during Sandy. (Flickr / WarmSleepy)

The New York City Comptroller’s office marked the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy with a dire report on the expected costs of the next big storm. Based on updated flood insurance maps from FEMA, the report finds that over $129 billion worth of property sits within the city’s 100-year floodplain – an increase of more than 120% from earlier maps. (100-year flood zones cover areas that have a 1% chance of flooding each year.) “In short, FEMA’s revised maps depict a greatly expanded floodplain that places almost three and a half times as many structures in high-risk zones and anticipates greater severity of flooding for those buildings already in the flood zone,” reads the report. “This new landscape holds important implications for resiliency investments, flood insurance, and the role of government in protecting homeowners from the next great storm.”

Flooding on the FDR during Hurricane Sandy. (Flickr / david_shankbone)

Flooding on the FDR during Hurricane Sandy. (Flickr / david_shankbone)

To protect the city, the comptroller suggests significant investments in resiliency projects like HUD’s Rebuild By Design competition. These types of large-scale projects would protect property and, ideally, control flood insurance insurance premiums which are expected to spike when FEMA’s proposed maps take effect in 2016. But that will only happen, explains the comptroller, if FEMA becomes a more agile and responsive agency: “FEMA is under no obligation under current rules to regularly review and update premiums despite the fact that the installation of costal protections—including surge barriers, artificial reefs, dunes, jetties, living shorelines, and floodwalls—are proven to help stem the effects of localized flooding and substantially lower flood risk.”

[h/t Vice]

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