By Andrew Khouri
3:53 PM EST, December 6, 2012
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy's devastation, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday that the city needed to prepare for “the new realities” of rising sea levels and laid out his vision -- one that could include levees.
“Let me be clear: We are not going to abandon the waterfront,” said Bloomberg, who had expressed his concern about global warning in the days following the superstorm. “We are not going to leave the Rockaways or Coney Island or Staten Island’s South Shore. But we can’t just rebuild what was there and hope for the best. We have to build smarter and stronger and more sustainably.”
Speaking at an event sponsored by the Regional Plan Assn. and the New York League of Conservation Voters, Bloomberg said city officials will be reexamining evacuation zones and updating building codes and may build berms, dunes, jetties and levees to blunt the impact of future storm surges.
The mayor said the city was currently undertaking a full review of how it can better "mobilize and deploy resources and essential services before, during and after a major disaster." A full report with recommendations is expected by the end of February.
Although Bloomberg said the city would look at some ways to buffer its waterfront, he rebuffed those who have called for an investment in sea walls.
“It would be nice if we could stop the tides from coming in, but King Canute couldn’t do it -- and neither can we, especially if, as many scientists project, sea levels continue rising,” Bloomberg said.
He also expressed a need to better prepare New York’s infrastructure for all types of extreme weather, saying the systems failed New Yorkers during Sandy and didn’t come back online soon enough.
As a start to that goal, Bloomberg announced that utility Con Edison has agreed to invest $250 million to better protect its gas, electric and steam systems.