BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

Jan 9 13

Infrastructure Preparedness: Lessons Learned from Hurricane Sandy

The following post is from Stephanie Hernandez, Communications Intern for the BlueGreen Alliance.

Hurricane Sandy revealed our vulnerability to powerful storms and extreme weather. This exposed the weakness of our nation’s utility, transportation and energy infrastructure. In response to the impact of these storms on the lives of New Yorkers, Governor Andrew Cuomo convened the NYS2100 Commission in response to the “recent, and unprecedented, severe weather events experienced by New York State and the surrounding region.”

The Commission’s mandate is to examine and evaluate the state’s infrastructure systems and create recommendations for building long-term resilience to a variety of “shocks and stresses.” The commission focused on five areas, including land use, energy, transportation, insurance and infrastructure finance.

The disaster preparedness Commission predicts future chaotic and frequent weather events, heat waves, droughts and more storm surges surfacing in multiple areas. Also, the Commission calls for the hardening of power systems by generating electricity in diverse locations. In other words, the report recommends strengthening power grids, which would help to prevent situations — like those caused by Hurricane Sandy — where most of New York City had no power.

The co-chairwoman of the commission Judith Rodin said, “Research, practice, thought, conversation, debate and hard experience with disasters around the world — from post-Katrina New Orleans to post-tsunami Asia — from the bedrock of the recommendations in this preliminary report; many of which we can implement immediately, and all of which would ultimately save dollars and even lives.”

Addressing climate change and preparing for its inevitable impacts can create jobs. Necessary changes to buildings, streets, and electricity will create jobs ranging from construction to architecture. It’s time that preparedness for the impacts of climate change, as well as measures to mitigate the worst potential impacts, is a top national priority — for the sake of our communities and our economy.

Preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change is essential. Communities and countries around the world are creating and implementing new policies aimed at increasing safety and preparing infrastructure for the future. For example, due to worsening storms, major actions behind a rail connection between the Metro-North commuter lines and Pennsylvania Station and new rail connection under the Hudson River are being reconsidered. Before Hurricane Sandy, these projects were approved and underway, but now there is the push to finish them.

New York stands at the center of a burgeoning debate about finally addressing climate change and preparing our infrastructure for the impacts we can no longer avoid. “Climate change is dramatically increasing the frequency and the severity of these situations,” Governor Cuomo said last week. “As time goes on, we’re more and more realizing that these crises are more frequent and worse than anyone predicted.”