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Superstorm Sandy 10 Years Later: NY Bracing for Future


Monday, October 17, 2022   

Ten years ago this week New York City was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, what was then considered a once-in-a-lifetime disaster. But storms of the same magnitude are becoming regular occurrences.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting several storms in the 2022 Hurricane season will have a similar intensity to Sandy. And so far, they've been right.

Hurricanes Fiona and Ian, which devastated Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Florida, had wind speeds and flooding much like Sandy did. Alison Branco PhD, director of climate adaptation for The Nature Conservancy of Long Island, said Superstorm Sandy was a wake up call.

"And so I think, people didn't always take seriously the possibility that a really big storm was going to impact us," said Branco. "So, I think ever since Superstorm Sandy, local governments, communities, people, businesses have all been starting to think and plan a lot more about the possibility of big storms like that."

She added that storms like Ian and Fiona have been bringing more rain to inland areas, away from the shoreline.

One easy way for people to plan for big storms, Branco advised, is checking flood zone maps online. In doing this, people can see the kind of zone they're in and figure out what their risk of flooding is.

Branco said she finds people think climate change is a future problem. But its effects are here now, even though it's hard to say when the next superstorm will occur.

As storms continue growing in intensity, she said she feels communities need to have a plan to deal with more rain and flooding. However, in doing this planning, Branco noted that rising groundwater is often overlooked.

"So, in a lot of coastal communities that's actually the first impact that people are seeing from sea level rise, before you start to have shore flooding," said Branco. "A lot of times the groundwater is coming up and it's backing up in storm drains, and you're seeing a lot of road flooding around the storm drains."

She said communities should consider what critical services could be vulnerable, which residential and business areas are vulnerable, and how to make them safer.

Disclosure: The Nature Conservancy in New York - Long Island contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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