Secondary Navigation

Mayor Bloomberg Presents The City's Long-term Plan To Further Prepare For The Impacts Of A Changing Climate

June 11, 2013

The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's remarks as prepared for delivery today at the Duggal Greenhouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Please check against delivery:

"Thank you, Borough President Molinaro, for your great leadership in helping Staten Island recover. And I want to thank Baldev Duggal for all his determination to turn disaster into opportunity.

"Welcome, everyone, to this beautiful greenhouse: the perfect symbol of our City's determination to rebuild - and renew. Not long ago, this building was an abandoned shell, like much of the Navy Yard - a far cry from the glory days when this was one of the most important naval building sites in the country and crucial to our victory in World War II. In the 40s, the Navy Yard was nicknamed the 'Can-Do Yard' because no place better exemplified the spirit and resolve of our country. And I can't think of a better slogan to describe it today.

"The Navy Yard was hit hard by Sandy, but within a few days, it was back up and buzzing once again. Today, the Yard is home to 330 businesses, and 6,400 jobs, nearly twice as many as were here in 2001.

"And it's helping New York drive the 21st century economy - from a 3-D printing lab that's helping revolutionize manufacturing, to a modular construction site that's helping change the building industry, to the clean energy and sustainability technologies being pioneered here.

"Today, this building that once turned out battleships now helps lead us in another battle - a battle that may well define our future for generations to come: The battle against climate change.

"It is a battle that our Administration has been waging as aggressively as any city in the world. In fact, it's fair to say that PlaNYC is the most ambitious sustainability program any city has ever undertaken. Six years ago, PlaNYC sounded the alarm about the dangers our city faces due to the effects of climate change today, including the worsening impacts of extreme weather.

"Since then, we've done a lot to attack the causes of climate change and make our City less vulnerable to its possible effects: strengthening the building code; building green infrastructure, including our nationally recognized Blue Belt, to prevent flooding; and taking steps that have helped reduce the City's greenhouse gas emissions by 16 percent - more than halfway to our goal of a 30 percent reduction by 2030.

"We haven't waited for Washington to lead on climate change, we've attacked the problem head-on, just as many other cities are now doing. And through the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which I've chaired since 2010, we're working with mayors around the world to share strategies for lowering emissions even further.

"But Hurricane Sandy - which tragically took the lives of 43 New Yorkers - made it all too clear that, no matter how far we've come, we still face real, immediate threats.

"We've been working ever since to help communities recover and rebuild, and also to better prepare them - and our entire City - for what comes next. Last month we released a detailed After-Action review of the City's performance during and after Sandy, and we're implementing 60 recommendations that will ensure we do an even better job when the next storm hits.

"In December, I asked Seth Pinsky, the President of the City's Economic Development Corporation, to lead a team of people - including Marc Ricks and Tokumbo Shobowale - who would develop a comprehensive plan to prepare our city for the climate risks we face. I asked them to use PlaNYC as a foundation, and to work with Sergej Mahnovski and our Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, which spearheaded the implementation of PlaNYC.

"Over the past six months, we brought in dozens of experts from highly specialized fields: climate science and engineering, healthcare, telecommunications, utilities, insurance, and together, we took an in-depth look at what exactly happened during Sandy, and why.

"We assessed what the risks are for the years to come: to our communities, to our infrastructure, and to all New Yorkers. We analyzed the most effective - and achievable - ways to confront those risks. We engaged dozens of elected officials from the City, State, and Federal governments. We talked with hundreds of community organizations, businesses and residents from every area impacted by Sandy.  And we consulted with people from every sector.

"Let's take a quick look at some of the work we did and the people who were involved.

"That video offers just a glimpse of the round-the-clock work our team did. It was an unprecedented post-disaster effort, creating a level of analysis we think never before undertaken by a City government.

"And today, as a result of all that work, we're releasing a 400-page report detailing over 250 concrete recommendations for how to confront the risks we face, and build a stronger, more resilient City.

"These include comprehensive plans for strengthening 15 critical areas, like coastal defenses, buildings, utilities, fuel and food supply, healthcare, transportation, and telecommunications. For all of these 15 areas, the report takes a top-to-bottom look at their infrastructure, their governance, how they were impacted by Sandy, the most significant risks that they face due to climate change, and what exactly we can do to better prepare them for it.

"The report also includes five chapters focused specifically on the areas that suffered the most damage from Sandy. For each community, we looked at their specific vulnerabilities, and for each, we developed a tailored, workable plan for a more resilient future.

"This was a phenomenal amount of work - and I want to thank everyone who was a part of it, including the whole team involved in our Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency effort, including our City Planning Department, led by Amanda Burden. I think they all deserve a big round of applause.

"The plan is incredibly ambitious - and much of the work will extend far beyond the next 203 days. But we refused to pass responsibility for creating a plan onto the next Administration. 

"This is urgent work - and it must begin now. So we will use every one of the next 203 days to get as much work as possible underway, and to lock in commitments wherever we can.

"Today, I'd like to discuss with you some of the plan's key elements. And let's begin with an important acknowledgement: As bad as Sandy was, future storms could be even worse. In fact, because of rising temperatures and sea levels, even a storm that's not as large as Sandy could - down the road - be even more destructive.

"To understand what we're up against, we re-convened the New York City Panel on Climate Change, which we created as part of PlaNYC. It's led by climate scientists, and it's one of the nation's first government-sponsored efforts to study the effects of the changing climate on a metropolitan region. Over the last several months, they developed New York-specific climate projections, which we released yesterday.

"Here's FEMA's 100-year flood map, which was in effect when Sandy hit. FEMA has since released a new version of its map. But these maps don't take into account potential changes going forward, like rising sea levels, which our panel forecasts could increase by more than two and a half feet by midcentury.

"Let's go back and look at the 1983 map. Now, here's the 2013 map again. And here's what our panel believes the map may look like in the 2020s. But that's not all. Let's look ahead even further. First, look at 1983. Now, here's the 2013 map. Here's the 2020s map, and here's what our panel projects for the 2050s. Look at it again from start to finish. As you can see, our city will be much more vulnerable to flooding in the decades ahead. 

"In fact, we expect that by mid-century up to one-quarter of all of New York City's land area, where 800,000 residents live today, will be in the floodplain. If we do nothing, more than 40 miles of our waterfront could see flooding on a regular basis, just during normal high tides.

"Think about what that means - just in financial terms: Sandy cost our City $19 billion in damages and lost economic activity. And we now forecast that a storm like Sandy could cost nearly five times that much by mid-century - around $90 billion.

"That leaves us with a few clear choices: We can do nothing and expose ourselves to an increasing frequency of Sandy-like storms that do more and more damage, or we can abandon the waterfront. Or, we can make the investments necessary to build a stronger, more resilient New York - investments that will pay for themselves many times over in the years to come.

"I strongly believe we have to prepare for what the scientists say is a likely scenario. Whether you believe climate change is real or not is beside the point - we can't run the risk. And as New Yorkers, we cannot and will not abandon our waterfront. It's one of our greatest assets. We must protect it, not retreat from it.

"For decades, the City allowed the waterfront to become polluted, degraded, and abandoned. We have spent the past eleven years reversing that history and reclaiming the waterfront for all New Yorkers to enjoy, and we are not going to stop now.

"To illustrate the futility of retreat, consider that within FEMA's new 100-year flood maps there are more than 500 million square feet of New York City buildings - equivalent to the entire city of Minneapolis. These communities are home to almost 400,000 people and more than 270,000 jobs.

"They are not going anywhere, and we cannot and will not abandon them. It's up to us to make these communities stronger and safer. And that goes for all communities that could be impacted by a storm, not just those hit hard by Sandy.

"We're not going to make the mistake of fighting the last war. We have to look ahead - and anticipate any and all future threats, not only from hurricanes - but also from droughts, heavy downpours like we had last week, and heat waves, which may be longer, and more intense, in the years to come.

"Now, there is no single solution to all of these challenges, and we won't get all this work done at once - that would be impossible. But piece by piece, over many years and even decades, we can build a city that's capable of preparing better, withstanding more, and overcoming anything.

"Make no mistake: This is a defining challenge for our future, and if anyone is up to the task of defending and adapting the city they love, it's New Yorkers.

"This is too important - and it's up to all of us to work together to accelerate our progress, and it's up to you to hold the next Administration accountable for getting it done.

"Let's start by talking about the first layer of our defense - our coastal protections, beginning with our beaches. Sandy made clear the important role the beach itself can play in preventing flooding. Here are before and after photos of Beach 94th Street in the Rockaways - it has no dunes, and it's a washout. Here are photos from just two miles down the shore, at Beach 56th Street. There are strong dunes, and it's mostly okay. This combination of dunes and wide beaches with ample sand on them is a potent one.

"So right now, in Staten Island, we're taking immediate measures to restore beaches and build resilient, protective barriers. We're working with the Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen dune systems and beaches across Staten Island, South Brooklyn, and Queens, including in Coney Island and along the Rockaways.

"There is short-term work that will be completed this year - with additional phases to follow in the coming years. In Breezy Point, we're proposing a new double-dune system that would offer two layers of defense to this community that Sandy devastated, a strategy that could eventually be rolled out across the Rockaways.

"The Rockaway Peninsula is one of the most exposed parts of our City, but this dune system - when combined with other protections we're proposing today - will ensure that communities all along the peninsula are better protected from future storms.

"Thanks go to Commissioners Veronica White at Parks and David Burney at the Department of Design and Construction for their incredibly quick work to begin the work along our beaches, and thanks to collaboration between many city agencies, and thousands of NYC Service volunteers lending a hand, we not only opened our beaches in time for the summer season - we also made a lot of headway strengthening the coast in vulnerable areas.

"We couldn't have done it without the huge effort of the Army Corps of Engineers under the strong leadership of Colonel Paul Owen here in the New York area, and the State Department of Environmental Conservation under Commissioner Joseph Martens, and Regional Director Venetia Lannon, who's a former member of our Administration.

"Nothing this monumental can happen without local, state and federal governments working together, and I want to thank President Obama and Governor Cuomo - and their teams, especially HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who have helped us slash red tape and get work done as quickly as possible.

"A stronger dune system and widened beaches will be a top priority for our shoreline, but that's only the beginning. Our report includes 37 coastal defense projects, including restoring natural wetlands to lessen waves on the South Shore of Staten Island, and throughout Jamaica Bay, including near Howard Beach, and placing offshore breakwaters in areas where waves pose the greatest threat - including a first phase of these defenses off Great Kills Harbor on Staten Island, which we'll work with the Army Corps to begin studying immediately.

"Fortifying our natural defenses is critical - but it's not enough. Even though a giant barrier across our entire harbor is not practical, or affordable, smaller surge barriers are feasible - and they could have prevented a lot of the flooding we saw during Sandy.

"That's especially true of what is called 'back-door flooding,' when water overflows rivers, creeks, and canals. Today, we are proposing that several surge barriers be considered to shut these back doors. Building them will take years of design and construction work - but we can begin the process now and we are.

"One storm surge barrier would be at Newtown Creek, where the storm surge pushed floodwaters into the surrounding neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Long Island City and as far inland as Maspeth. A surge barrier at the mouth of Newtown Creek would dramatically reduce storm flooding in these neighborhoods, and we'll work with the Army Corps to begin studying it immediately.

"We're also starting a series of studies of other possible waterway barriers, too. Take Coney Island. Much of the flooding that occurred along the Coney Island peninsula and in neighborhoods like Gravesend was actually not the result of water crashing up over the beach and boardwalk. Instead, it was caused by water coming around the peninsula and up Coney Island Creek - a 'backdoor' that Sandy easily kicked open.

"A tidal barrier across the Coney Island Creek could protect the neighborhood from flooding, and the City could build new parkland across the barrier itself, connecting two existing local parks.

"Water entering through these backdoors accounted for a lot of flood damage. And the biggest back door of all, of course, was Jamaica Bay. A surge barrier at the mouth of the bay could help protect the communities of Gerritsen Beach, Howard Beach, Broad Channel, Canarsie and Mill Basin, all of which experienced devastating flooding during Sandy.

"Now, that surge barrier would be very complicated and take years to build, and it would first require real study, so we can determine if it's worthwhile. But that analysis can begin today.

"Right now, the Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a $20 million study of flood protection possibilities across the entire northeastern seaboard. When it comes to New York Harbor, we want them to do a full study of all the longer-term projects we're proposing - including the Jamaica Bay barrier, as well as a possible barrier across the Gowanus Canal. And we'll work with the Corps and our representatives in Congress to make sure that happens.

"In addition to dunes, beach widening, and tidal barriers - our coastal defense plan also calls for building a diverse network of bulkheads, levees, and other protections. For instance, to protect against flooding and erosion, we'll install piles of massive stone - also known as revetments - in vulnerable places along the South Shore of Staten Island, including in Wolfe's Pond, where we're already at work, and in Southern Brooklyn, along Coney Island Creek.

"We'll also work with the Army Corps to ensure that a strong system of permanent levees, floodwalls and other protective measures gets built along the East Shore of Staten Island - from Fort Wadsworth to Tottenville, including Midland Beach. This Staten Island project will rise as high as 15 to 20 feet, protecting communities that were devastated by Sandy and that have seen coastal flooding even during regular Nor'easters for years, and we'll work to make sure that it provides solid protection that also integrates into the existing community.

"What I mean by that is, a floodwall doesn't have to be just a wall, it can be part of an elevated park or boardwalk, and still block flood waters.  

"The Corps has the funds for this project, and we will work with the City Council to include the necessary City match of around $50 million in the budget that will go into effect July 1, which is another action that we can and will take immediately. The State will need to provide a match, too - and we're urging them to do that.

"We are also going to expand and accelerate the bluebelts that have been incredibly successful at absorbing floodwaters in Staten Island.

"In addition to the almost $50 million of City capital funding that will support the projects I've described, today we're announcing that we'll invest approximately $20 million to accelerate the Mid-Island section of the Staten Island Bluebelt in Last Chance Pond Park. And we'll continue the expansion of bluebelts to the other boroughs, including Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

"In more heavily developed parts of our City that saw flooding, we're also recommending a combination of permanent elements and flexible flood protection systems that can be temporarily fortified before a storm rolls in, and then put back in storage for the next time.

"For example, in places like Red Hook, Chinatown, the Lower East Side, East Harlem, Hunts Point, and in front of Bellevue Hospital and along Hospital Row, and possibly down to the Battery, a system of strategically placed floodwalls, levees and other features would provide a strong line of defense against flooding.

"These will be built of permanent elements, like planters and elevated esplanades, as well as temporary walls with removable panels - like you see in this slide. Eventually, as more resources are secured, we imagine extending these systems up the Harlem River, around the West Side of Manhattan, and elsewhere in the City.

"Now - some of our waterfront protections may be controversial.  Some may block views. But the alternative is to get flooded out - or worse. We can't stop nature, and so if we're going to save lives, and protect the lives of communities, we're going to have to live with some new realities.

"Phase One of our comprehensive coastal protection plan includes initiatives that should begin immediately, including many elements that we have already begun. As we build them out, we'll make all our coastal communities safer day by day, including for the more than 80,000 New Yorkers in 400 public housing buildings hit hard by the storm. Our coastal protections can also open up a range of exciting possibilities for our City.

"For instance, during Hurricane Sandy, the East Side of Lower Manhattan was badly flooded - while the Hudson riverfront south of Chambers Street and north of the Battery held up pretty well.

"What made the difference? Battery Park City. In fact, Battery Park City would have protected inland areas - including the World Trade Center - had floodwaters not been able to penetrate low-lying coastline to the north and south. When it was built in the 1970s, Battery Park City was designed to withstand major flooding - and for the most part, it did.

"We can achieve the same thing on the East Side of Lower Manhattan. We can build it out, raise it above the flood level - and develop it. Call it Seaport City. Yes, it would be expensive to build. But over time it could prove to be a great investment, just as Battery Park City has been.

"Demand for housing in Lower Manhattan has never been stronger - and our City needs more modern office space. Seaport City would capitalize on that demand, bringing thousands of new residents and hundreds of businesses to the area, while also protecting existing residents and businesses from future storms. It's an ambitious idea - yes.  But so was Battery Park City.

"And we believe it's an idea that deserves careful attention and further study, which we will start immediately, and it will be up to our successor to continue the work.

"All of these plans will make our City better prepared to handle extreme weather. But we should also look at them as opportunities to make our communities stronger, and more vibrant.

"Why shouldn't a tidal barrier in Coney Island also be a bridge to a new, protected waterfront park? Why shouldn't we integrate our coastal defenses into beautiful waterfront esplanades? Why can't a fortification that protects Lower Manhattan against rising seas - also be the foundation for a vibrant new neighborhood? 

"This is New York City. We've always turned challenges into opportunities. Sandy was a temporary setback that can ultimately propel us forward, if we think big and seize the moment.

"However, for all we do, we can't entirely prevent water from entering our neighborhoods. So our plan is designed also to ensure that when flooding and other extreme weather do happen, buildings can survive with less damage.

"We've proposed new zoning that makes it easier to elevate existing buildings above the floodplain. And we're also working with Speaker Quinn and the Building Resiliency Task Force to implement changes to the City's construction codes that will raise standards even higher for new construction. But 95 percent of the 800 buildings that were severely damaged or destroyed during Sandy were built more than fifty years ago, prior to modern Building Code standards.

"We've already helped thousands of homes, businesses, and nonprofits that were damaged rebuild stronger and safer, and with the $1.77 billion in Federal relief funding we've been allocated, we'll be able to help many more. That Federal relief funding includes more than $100 million we've dedicated to public housing damaged by Sandy, on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars in FEMA funding that NYCHA is likely to receive - money that NYCHA is already putting to work protecting buildings from future storms.

"But for every building severely damaged by Sandy, there are many more that are vulnerable, or that were damaged, but not enough to qualify for Federal relief to elevate them out of the floodplain. We want to make those buildings stronger and safer, as well.

"So we will work with HUD to create a $1.2 billion incentive program to encourage all vulnerable property owners to make additional flood-protection improvements to their properties. This $1.2 billion program will be the largest local resiliency incentive program ever created, and it will help owners flood-proof electrical, heating, and telecommunications and other critical systems.

"For the most vulnerable buildings, we'll also offer incentives for structural improvements, too.  This program will mean that when extreme weather hits, people will be able to return to their homes and businesses faster, and find far less damage when they do.

"And that brings us to another enormous challenge facing communities: the price of flood insurance. Because of a federal law passed last year before Sandy hit, the cost of Federal flood insurance will skyrocket. And when FEMA's new flood maps for the New York area become official, these rates will go up even more.

"A typical family living in Tottenville, Staten Island - where the median household income is $80,000 - may soon pay up to $10,000 a year for flood insurance. With the floodplain expanding, more and more New Yorkers are going to need this insurance. In fact, if you live in a flood zone and have a federally backed mortgage, you have to buy flood insurance, and most people buy it through the federal program.

"Here's the problem: for the most part, the federal government will cut you a break on insurance only if you elevate your home. As you can see from this slide - your premium drops from about $9,500 to about $1,400. Elevating homes may be fine for many beachfront communities along the Eastern Seaboard.

"But New York City is different. Many of our buildings can't physically be elevated, for structural or other reasons.

"This one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn't work, and it needs to change. If we want people to make investments to protect their homes - we have to give them incentives to do it.

"Today, we're proposing a solution to this problem: a partial rate reduction for homes that make flood-related improvements, even if they do not involve elevation. Under our proposal, if you take action to protect your home from flooding - like raising electric systems or boilers out of the floodplain - your insurance premiums will drop.

"We can't do this without the federal government's support, and we're going to make it a top priority in Washington in the weeks and months ahead. This is a crucial public safety issue -and it's a crucial pocketbook issue, too.

"For thousands of New Yorkers, the difference in the cost of insurance we're talking about is the difference between being able to stay in their communities, and having to move out. What a shame it would be - after all these communities have been through - after all we've done together to help them rebuild, if families were priced out by insurance costs that don't reflect market realities. We can't let that happen.

"Now, there are also New Yorkers who aren't required to have flood insurance, but probably should have it, and would likely buy it if there were a reasonable option. So we'll work with our leaders in Washington to push for the creation of low-cost, high deductible policies, so that more New Yorkers are covered in case of emergency.

"And we'll work with them to make sure they create a program of federal subsidies for low-income home-owners, which FEMA is supposed to be exploring by law. A federal insurance program should encourage people to protect themselves - not to do nothing and hope for the best."

"Next, just as we need a plan to protect our homes and businesses, we also need to protect our hospitals and health care facilities. Thanks to the incredible work of thousands of health professionals, City agencies, and volunteers, no lives were lost when many of these facilities were evacuated because of Sandy.

"But we want to avoid emergency evacuations whenever possible. And we have to make sure the facilities we depend on in emergencies are there for us when we need them most.

"So we'll amend the construction codes to require new facilities to meet a high level of flood resistance - and to have access to backup capacity for power and other critical systems, not only in case of flooding, but also heat waves.

"We'll require that existing facilities meet many of the same benchmarks by 2030, and today, we're proposing a $50 million incentive program to help some of the most financially challenged nursing homes and adult care facilities meet those requirements much sooner.

"We also have to make sure that extreme weather doesn't knock out other critical infrastructure. Millions of New Yorkers lost power during Sandy and hundreds of thousands lost heat, internet service, or phone service. Fuel supplies were also knocked out - resulting in long waits at the pumps.

"Over the last six months, we've looked at every aspect of how our major infrastructure networks run: what their rules and regulations are, who controls them, where their key vulnerabilities lie and what we can do to make sure that future events don't knock them out like Sandy did.

"And what we learned is that many of the operators who run those networks have failed to make continuous service during and after extreme weather a major priority, while others need to make it more of a priority.

"We must change that - and we will. New Yorkers rely on these networks. We pay for them. We grant them access to our streets. But when a crisis hits, when we really need them most, we lose access to them.

"That is not acceptable. Most of these networks are not run or regulated by the City, but the time has come for all of our private sector partners to step up to the plate and join us in protecting New Yorkers.

"Consider our electrical network. Con Ed has made major investments in resiliency. That's a big reason why we've haven't had any major blackouts in a few years and they deserve real credit for that.

"But about two-thirds of our major substations and nearly all of the city's power plants are in flood plains today. Every summer, our electrical grid comes under extreme stress during heat waves.

"Both risks will get worse with climate change. A day without power can cost New York City more than a billion dollars. But regulators, utilities and generators are not sufficiently addressing these risks. And that needs to change, now. 

"We have to work in partnership with them - criticizing them is not going to accomplish anything. We're all in this together.

"And so the City will work with the Governor, private companies, and the Public Service Commission - the state agency that regulates utilities - to try to make sure that our systems don't fail us.

"That includes a systematic plan for hardening infrastructure and clear performance guidelines and expectations for maintaining service during extreme weather events.

"Right now, there are benchmarks for reliability that utility companies have to meet, but those benchmarks largely exclude storms, and don't account for climate change. That makes no sense - and we'll work to fix that.

"In fact, just last week we submitted over 400 of pages of testimony to the Public Service Commission proposing stronger measures to protect the power grid from storm surge, heat waves and other risks and we'll make sure that companies take those measures.

"Our utility systems are run by private companies, but they must be accountable to the public. Because the City has a public interest in them - and so we have to make sure they do what's right not only for stockholders, but for all New Yorkers.

"Our goal is not only to harden the electrical system, but to develop a cleaner, more reliable, affordable, and innovative energy system.

"Our plan calls for utilities and regulators to diversify the sources of energy feeding the city to fix rules that hinder the growth of distributed generation, including for customers who want to generate their own power and to work with the City to evaluate and adopt micro-grid pilots.

"We have the same goal for our telecommunications network, not just hardening it, but modernizing it.

"Here, the City has some leverage: we have franchise and other agreements that let telecom companies use our streets for wiring. Well, if they want to continue using our streets, they have to make resiliency a priority. They are running a commercial enterprise, but they are using public assets to do it and we have every right to expect them to protect public safety.

"So we'll set out a framework for the City to use the franchise review and other processes to ensure these private companies invest in public safety measures.

"And we're creating a new Planning and Resiliency Office in the City's Information Technology agency to design and enforce these new standards and to monitor the performance of telecommunications providers.

"We have to hold companies accountable for keeping the lights on, the phones working, and the heat on especially during emergencies. Our proposals will help do that - including for other critical networks, like our food supply, and our fuel supply.

"In New York City, over 90 percent of gas stations had power after Sandy, but most had no gasoline, largely due to breakdowns in the regional supply chain. 

"That's also not acceptable - and it's avoidable, with the right investments and oversight.

"So we're going to work with the fuel industry, and the Federal government, to make pipelines and terminals more resistant to extreme weather and better able to bounce back when interruptions do occur.

"Just because the companies are located outside New York City doesn't provide an excuse. We still depend on them - and so it's up to us to work with them to ensure they can meet our needs.

"We also have ambitious plans for the City's transportation network, our parks, our water and wastewater systems, our solid waste systems, and others - all of which are critical to building a stronger, more resilient New York.

"Our analysis of critical infrastructure was citywide, but focused especially on the most vulnerable areas. And to help make those areas less vulnerable, our report also includes a number of big ideas to help those communities move forward.

"For instance, helping Red Hook recover from Sandy also means improving its transit connections - including providing more ferry service to Lower Manhattan, and creating better pedestrian and bus connections to the rest of Brooklyn.

"A stronger boardwalk and beachfront across the Rockaways should go hand in hand with economic development, including working to revitalize the Beach 116th Street business corridor and the Mott Avenue transit hub in Far Rockaway.

"As we're strengthening the beaches along Staten Island's East and South Shores, we'll also invite ideas for new concessions and attractions at strategic locations along the shore.

"These ideas and more are in the Community Rebuilding and Resiliency Plans we're proposing for every hard-hit area.

"We're proposing a lot of ambitious ideas - and a fair question to ask is: how much would it all cost? We estimate the full cost of everything we're proposing to be $19.5 billion. 

"Approximately $10 billion of that is covered by a combination of City capital funding that's already been allocated and Federal relief and other monies already designated for the City. Another $5 billion should come from the Federal government in subsequent rounds of Sandy relief that has been appropriated by Congress, as well as through FEMA risk mitigation funding and other sources.

"As for the rest, we'll press the Federal government to cover as much of the remaining costs as possible.

"After past disasters, they've come forward to do just that, including after Hurricane Katrina, when $9 billion in Federal funding paid for rebuilding efforts after the initial recovery and after the initial federal round of funding.

"Our congressional delegation has done a phenomenal job standing up for New York after Sandy and getting us the support we need and I know they'll continue to do that.

"This is a lot of work - and it's going to take a lot of cooperation, from agencies and community partners, to make it possible.

"I've directed our Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability to oversee our resiliency work. And today, I'm appointing a key member of the report team, Daniel Zarilli as Director of Resiliency.  He's an outstanding engineer, a Staten Islander, and we couldn't have a better man for the job. 

"We don't know for certain that we'll ever see another storm as strong as Sandy and we all hope we don't. But we must prepare for that possibility - and others.

"Heat waves, drought, and sea level rise will also pose significant challenges in the years ahead. It's going to take a lot of work, but it's not impossible. Far from it. And we can get a lot of things done, even in the next six months. 

"We can launch important studies and begin design work for big capital projects. We can make changes to the building and zoning codes. We can secure substantial funding from new allocation rounds of federal recovery money. We can move forward rebuilding destroyed homes and getting loans and grants to damaged businesses. And we can get important construction projects underway, just as we're doing on the beaches.

"If we take all the steps I've described, then - if and when a storm arrives in the future - it's going to find a very different New York than the one Sandy hit so hard.

"Instead of colliding with ocean-facing homes, waves rushing towards our city will hit breakwaters and wetlands that will help sap their strength and break their momentum.

"Waves that do reach our shores will find a strong line of coastal defenses: Reinforced dunes and widened beaches, levees, floodwalls and bulkheads and tide gates and surge barriers.

"Any water that makes its way across our first line of defense will find homes and businesses better fortified against all the elements and new, smart construction capable of withstanding even the worst weather.

"New, green infrastructure will absorb water or divert it to higher capacity sewers. And our critical systems will operate with less interruption throughout the storm and bounce back quicker if they go down.

"We can't completely climate-proof our city. That would be impossible. But we can make our city stronger and safer - and we can start today.

"And what better place to kick off this work - than here, at the 'Can-Do Yard'? Because as much work as there is ahead, as big as the task we face is - we can do it. This is New York City. Nothing's ever broken our spirit or our resolve to move forward.

"We've got a plan. We know what needs to happen. And we know it can't wait.

"It's up to you to hold us accountable for making as much progress as possible over the next 203 days, and it up to you to hold our successor accountable for getting it done.

"Together, we can build a stronger, more resilient - and greater - New York City. Thank you."

Media Contact

Marc LaVorgna/Lauren Passalacqua
(212) 788-2958