Rainproofing New York City is an achievable goal

NY Daily News Opinion, by Amy Chester and Lot Locher: Last summer, back-to-back heavy rainfalls broke two records 10 days apart, leaving 13 New Yorkers dead. This week, Mayor Adams unveiled a new interactive flood map and action plan so that all New Yorkers can reduce their own risk to heavy rainfall. As climate change brings with it even more intense and frequent storms, we must meet this challenge by both the public and private sector to take actions to become giant sponges — designing all of our infrastructure to hold, store and reuse water to the fullest extent.

The sewers of our city are not ready for an increase in the intensity and frequency of rain. When Hurricane Ida dropped multiple inches per hour on every single neighborhood, that water needed to go somewhere. Rain traveled across streets and impervious surfaces, picking up raw sewage along the way before traveling to the lowest points in the city — basements, garages, first-floor apartments, highways and subways — flooding living spaces and requiring evacuations of vehicles, homes and businesses.

Storms like Ida will happen again. In order to avoid the needless loss of life and property, the city needs to make this issue a priority in its policies and budgets. We can continue the old approach of scaling up sewer upgrades and targeting select sewer overflow areas, and eventually — many years and millions of dollars later — we will reduce our risk of flooding. Or, we can make our dollars work much harder for us. Expanding existing initiatives spearheaded by the Departments of Environmental Protection and Parks, we can look to innovative solutions that will benefit New Yorkers every day. Read more>>