How Ada evaded flood protection in New York City


“The problem is that we are seeing these impacts and these storms of changes faster, and adaptation has not kept up,” said Lauren McPhillips, A hydrologist at Pennsylvania State University who studies urban flooding.

McPhillips said that New York City is relatively forward-looking when it comes to preparing for floods. Over the years, the city has built more permeable buildings such as green roofs and rain gardens, as well as upgraded water pumps and drainage pipes. After Sandy, these improvements have been strengthened.

“We learned a lot from Sandy,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul. Press conference The morning after the storm. “We have regained our resilience; the condition of our coastal coastline is much better than before. But our weakness lies in our streets.”

Sandy is particularly prominent in any discussion about flooding in New York City. But the difference between Hurricane Ada in 2012 and Hurricane Ada illustrates the complex flood threats that climate change faces in this city. Sandy caused a strong storm surge, and the sea rushed into the city. Ada dumped a few inches of water into the city in a short period of time-a problem that sea barriers and other coastal protection measures cannot solve.

Although New York City and other coastal areas are more susceptible to rising sea levels, any urban area can experience so-called rain flooding, that is, flooding caused by rainfall. “The way we developed New York City caused flooding problems,” said Timon McPherson, A researcher of urban climate resilience at the New School, New York City Panel on Climate Change.

Impermeable surfaces such as concrete cause water to flow down the mountain instead of sinking into the ground like in grasslands or forests. If enough water is pooled together​​, the consequences can be fatal.

“We need to redesign the city to solve this problem.”

Timon McPherson

With the input of researchers such as McPhearson, New York City developed plans to improve its defenses against floods caused by storms.A visionary Rainwater recovery plan The report released in May 2021 includes an assessment of the city’s flood risk and proposes solutions, ranging from social strategies (such as flood risk education to the local city council) to engineering techniques (such as more green roofs and rain gardens).

The city’s Ministry of Environmental Protection is considering making plans for areas that are particularly hard-hit during the strongest storms.this Cloudburst Resilience ResearchIt was completed in 2018 and studied strategies for dealing with extreme rainfall events. Pilot programs for frequently flooded areas in Queens include green infrastructure, such as footpaths in parks that can be flooded, and basketball courts designed to store water during major floods.

But implementing these or any other stormwater management solutions requires a lot of money, and some take ten years to design. “We need to literally redesign the city to solve this problem,” McPherson said. He expects the price to be high-possibly hundreds of billions of dollars. He said that in some cases, research has suggested how to protect cities from flooding, but the political will to gather funds and take action remains an obstacle.



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