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Mayor de Blasio Unveils Landmark new Blueprint to Combat Extreme Weather

September 27, 2021

Over $2.7 billion in new and accelerated funding pledged to support report’s recommendations

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today released “The New Normal: Combatting Storm-Related Extreme Weather in New York City,” a landmark report that provides New York City with a new blueprint to prepare for and respond to extreme weather. The report was delivered to the mayor by the Extreme Weather Response Task Force, a top-level convening of senior leaders across City agencies, along with outside experts on climate change and resiliency, directed to compile a new set of protocols and policies to protect New Yorkers from future storms like Hurricane Ida.

A copy of the report can be found here.

The mayor announced plans to support the report’s recommendations with $2.1 billion in new funding at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); $238 million in accelerated funding for crucial DEP projects; $400 million in new funding for other priority capital projects among key agencies including the Parks Department; Department of Transportation; NYCHA; and the School Construction Authority; and $25 million in expense funding for Fiscal Year 2022.

“Extreme weather is more common than ever, and more severe than ever. Business as usual is over. Keeping New Yorkers safe means profoundly changing the way we prepare for – and react to – this new normal,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This new report charts a path forward for investing in vulnerable neighborhoods, shoring up our infrastructure, warning communities ahead of major weather events, and better tracking storms before they arrive. I’m proud to share it with New Yorkers, and I look forward to forging a safer and more resilient city.”

The mayor announced the creation of New York City’s first “Rainboots on the Ground” program – the city’s first-ever program to distribute educational information on evacuation procedures to basement apartment residents and vulnerable neighborhoods. Starting in 2022, the City will contract with 60 community-based organizations to canvass these neighborhoods and highlight the threats posed by storm water and extreme weather.

The mayor also announced the creation of a new Extreme Weather Coordinator position in City Hall. The position will work closely with New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) and other agencies to lead and organize extreme weather response. This Emergency Weather Coordinator will be appointed by the Mayor. Starting immediately, Deputy Mayor for Administration Emma Wolfe will be the first to serve in this role.

“New Yorkers have seen the effects of extreme weather on their communities, and they know it’s happening more frequently than ever before. With this blueprint, their City will be as tough, prepared, and resilient as they are,” said Deputy Mayor for Administration Emma Wolfe. “Thanks to targeted investments and better storm tracking, New York City will be more prepared than ever to keep the city safe from extreme weather.”

“The New Normal” outlines detailed new strategies to:

  • Educate, train, and acclimate New Yorkers to this new reality
  • Increase planning for the worst-case scenario in every instance
  • Accelerate upgrades to storm modeling, tracking, and alert systems
  • Broaden protection for inland communities, not only our coastlines
  • Protect basement and cellar occupants
  • Prioritize investments in low-income neighborhoods, immigrant communities, and communities of color
  • Re-imagine our sewage and drainage system, and rapidly increase green infrastructure and cloudburst solutions
  • Call on support from the state and federal government in further depending our reach

“After the destruction of Hurricane Ida, following almost 10 years after Sandy, it is hard for New Yorkers to believe these are once in a generation storms. Climate change, caused by humans putting too much pollution in the atmosphere, is making hurricanes more intense, and we cannot leave our heads buried in the sand any longer,” said Senator Charles Schumer. “New York is tackling the climate crisis head on with laws like the CLCPA, and we are working in the Senate to take the most significant action in our nation’s history to massively reduce carbon pollution. Reports like this one are critical, we have a lot of work to do but we have a roadmap and we need to begin moving forward ASAP.”

“We need no further proof than Hurricane Ida and the storms that preceded her to know that the climate crisis is already upon us," said U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat. “As communities were devastated in the aftermath of the storm and residents continue to seek assistance to help rebuild, we must seriously and effectively address the fact that climate change is impacting us every day and work to rapidly advance solutions to address the impact extreme weather is having in our city, across the nation and around the world. I commend Mayor de Blasio, city leaders, and each of the organizations that worked on The New Normal report. Together we are working to prioritize solutions, strengthen our city’s preparation, and streamline our overall response to help areas recover and residents get their lives back on track quickly following these natural future weather disasters.”
“I’m pleased to see the city work proactively to protect residents from more frequent and intense storms we’ve been experiencing by accelerating investment in key infrastructure projects like our city’s sewage and stormwater drainage system,” said U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis. “This is something my colleagues and I called for and I thank the city for taking action to move these necessary projects forward. I now ask that the city ensure an adequate number of engineers are available to design the projects so construction can start as quickly as possible and that they start with the streets that experienced the most severe flooding and property damage.”

“Climate adaptation is an essential part of climate action,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency. “The new actions and investments we are announcing today will accelerate our efforts to prepare for extreme rain, including capturing rainfall with innovative ‘cloudburst’ projects, advancing green infrastructure and wetlands restoration, protecting residents and businesses, and further strengthening our understanding of future climate risks. We know more climate disasters are inevitable—and we’re stepping up to protect New Yorkers from more dangerous and more severe extreme weather.”

“Hurricane Ida brought record setting amounts of rain never before seen in our city. I want express our condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives during the storm. For so many who experienced damage and losses to their homes and businesses, we know that recovery is not easy, and we at DEP commit our continued support. Much of our infrastructure was designed and constructed decades ago, for what is clearly a different climate reality. As extreme weather events become more frequent due to climate change, we need to continue making improvements to the City’s drainage infrastructure. As we continue to expand and update our infrastructure, we must supplement those efforts by expanding our nation-leading green infrastructure program, refining our maintenance schedules and mandating private properties capture their share of stormwater. DEP stands ready to take all necessary actions to protect our city from the dangers of climate change,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza.

“Extreme weather is the new normal, and New York City is determined to meet the challenge head-on. The strategies outlined in the report provide a blueprint for City agencies to immediately implement measures to mitigate the impacts of severe weather, as well as provide training and resources to help keep residents safe throughout the five boroughs,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner John Scrivani. “Together we can work to ensure that all New Yorkers are ready for the next storm.”

These actions build on the City’s current extreme weather response protocols. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ida, New York City began an unprecedented cleanup and recovery effort. Actions taken included:

  • 486,399 phone calls, and another 200,000 text messages, from City phone bankers to connect New Yorkers in hardest-hit communities to government resources
  • 29,536 doors knocked by City canvassers
  • 842 New Yorkers housed in hotels
  • 257,764 free meals distributed
  • 18,600 tons of debris picked up by the Sanitation department
  • 71,600 trash bags picked up by the City Cleanup Corps

“I applaud the de Blasio administration’s swift response in issuing their Extreme Weather Taskforce Report following Hurricane Ida’s destruction in New York. Our response to climate change’s impact on our beloved City remains an intergovernmental priority. As I continue to push for stronger environmental policies and resiliency investments in Congress, I commend the proactive steps our Mayor has taken to ensure an immediate local response to our increasingly precarious climate reality,” said U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks.

“Using our natural topography to help us navigate the growing frequency and intensity of storms has proven itself to be effective and I heartily concur with the Mayor this needs to happen. Bluebelts work. They are essential. We need to quickly advance those already in the planning stages and aggressively seek new Bluebelt opportunities so as to allow our natural topography to work for us,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo.

“Queens has seen firsthand the destructive aftermaths of extreme weather following Superstorms Sandy and Ida. Those devastating storms made it clear we need to invest in our infrastructure now more than ever, and that starts with us here at the city level. 'The New Normal: Combatting Storm-Related Extreme Weather in New York City' sets the framework on immediate steps we need to take, including accelerating projects and legalizing basement apartments so we hopefully do not see such devastation again. I thank Mayor de Blasio and his Administration for creating this plan and protecting New York City against climate change,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr.

"When Hurricane Sandy hit, I was a member of the NYC Council and I recall the devastation that it caused for New Yorkers as the storm shut down our offices both in Manhattan and Queens as well. With extreme weather events becoming ever more common, government has to respond. The release of the Extreme Weather Taskforce Report is both timely and critical and I commend the Mayor and the agency leads for their work and recommendations and look forward to partnering from the state level to push policies and investment to harden our infrastructure and make our city more climate resilient,” said State Senator Leroy Comrie

“Catastrophic weather events like Hurricane Ida are not going to stop coming and may only get worse with climate change. Every New Yorker deserves to know about the potential impacts and risks of flooding to their property before it’s too late. I applaud the Mayor for supporting S.5472, a bill to make flood disclosure a mandated part of any real estate transaction,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman.

"The damage and lives lost due to the remnants of hurricane Ida were a wake-up call and the latest reminder that the climate crisis is real and here with us. Inaction is not an option. I applaud the City's response in issuing their Extreme Weather Taskforce Report following Hurricane Ida's destruction in New York. This plan hopes to provide innovative ways to meet extreme weather directly with short-term infrastructure and long-term infrastructure solutions. It moves in the right direction to address the billions that need to be invested over time to upgrade infrastructure to reduce flood vulnerability for a system built a century ago for 1/2 the current population and hasn't changed since. With the ultimate goal to redo storm/wastewater management in NYC and update flash flood response protocol. It's encouraging to see in this plan commitments to multiple ways of warning people about life-threatening flooding, the use of existing places to hold stormwater during bursts of substantial rain, assisting individuals with the resources to retrofit buildings and homes, and the City's commitments to work with New York State and federal programs. I will continue to support and push for more robust environmental policies and resiliency investments at the state level. Climate change is here with us, and we have to act appropriately; this is a great start because we no longer can put it off,” said State Senator Robert Jackson.

"Today’s announcement from City Hall marks an encouraging step that my neighbors, and indeed the entire city, desperately need as we still work to recover from Ida. In order to ensure that the storms that are increasingly becoming part of a new normal don’t devastate New Yorkers with every rainfall, we need to refocus on building up resiliency that allows us to more adequately prepare - particularly in working-class and immigrant communities that experience the worst of the climate crisis. The additional funding for DEP, NYCHA, DOT, and others is a signal that NYC is working towards a local Green New Deal, and I look forward to doing my part to ensure that my colleagues and I in Albany are active partners in this effort,” said State Senator Jessica Ramos.

“Hurricane Ida once again demonstrated the need for decisive action when it comes to storms that are consistently flooding our neighborhoods and damaging homes. My district was particularly hard hit by this storm and is already prone to flooding. I am glad the city has put together a framework that we can build upon to lessen the impact of future natural disasters,” said State Senator James Sanders.

"Just a few weeks ago, our city was devastated by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. This had an impact on my Bronx district, as the people's homes, roads, and subway stations were flooded. With our climate crisis being an existential threat, I commend the Mayor's office for taking these necessary steps to protect New Yorkers from future extreme weather storms like Ida,” said Assembly Member Kenny Burgos.

"Many of the communities I represent — Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach — were devastated by Superstorm Sandy back in 2012, and the recovery from that event is still ongoing nine years later," said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz. "What we learned from Sandy, and now from Ida, is that we need a set of protocols in place to ensure that residents are prepared for a storm, know what to do to keep themselves safe from harm, and have resources available to them to help them repair any damage that might occur. I commend the Mayor, City and the task force for collaborating on this extensive report that I hope will avert many of the preventable mistakes of the past and protect the people of our city during an extreme weather event."

“Hurricane Ida destroyed the homes of our neighbors and overwhelmed our infrastructure. It continues to be communities of color and low-income communities that are devastated by inaction and divestment and it has to stop,” said Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas. “Only swift and decisive leadership will prepare us to adequately endure and respond to the ongoing threats of climate change. I thank the Mayor for the roll-out of this blueprint and will advocate at the state level to ensure we are partnering with all levels of government to keep New Yorkers informed and safe. Ultimately, we must pass the Climate and Community Investment Act and Public Power at the state level and a Green New Deal at the federal level.”

"Climate change is one of the biggest threats we face. I am grateful to the de Blasio administration for taking the reins and leading the city forward with a report and strategies to combat 'the New Normal,' and plan for worst case scenarios, prioritizing residents most vulnerable to climate change and its effects. I will work tirelessly with the administration to combat extreme weather and it's causes,” said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn.

“Recent weather events have made it clear that extreme weather is no longer the exception but the new normal. I am glad that the city has acted with urgency to identify needs and make strong commitments to upgrading our infrastructure to be more adequately equipped to handle extreme weather events in the future,” said Assembly Member Michael Cusick.

“The city is being proactive as we address climate change and that is a step in the right direction”, said Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman. It is important  while we continue to aid in relief efforts for those who may not qualify do to immigration status, we a plan that mitigates rising ground water in South East Queens to be added to our storm resiliency plans so that no one will be left out of aid in the future.”

“I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio for responding to the destruction from IDA by issuing an Extreme Weather Taskforce Report.  Our response to climate change must be expeditious.  As a member of the Assembly Environmental Legislators Caucus, I will continue to support dynamic environmental legislation to protect and plan for our future in New York State," said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.   
“I applaud the City’s efforts to keep New Yorkers safe as we experience a significant increase in extreme weather threats due to climate change,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. “Improving our resiliency is imperative, given how much of our city’s borders are coastal. The City and my district sustained record-breaking flooding, with significant damage and a tragic loss of over a dozen New Yorkers. This district is also home to an EPA Superfund site located in the Gowanus flood zone, so the emphasis on environmental justice and upgrading our archaic sewage/drainage infrastructure is especially important to keeping our residents safe and our City viable,” said Assembly Member Jo-Anne Simon.

I applaud the Mayor for addressing the extreme weather phenomena and climate change that will continue to affect our city. These efforts will help to make us more resilient and will likely save New Yorker’s lives,” said Assembly Member Clyde Vanel.

“Deadly tropical storms like Hurricane Ida are created by climate change. In order for New York City to combat the destruction caused by extreme weather change, we need a multi-agency approach. I commend the Mayor’s Office for organizing such a plan and releasing a strategic report- the Extreme Weather Taskforce Report- on how NYC can become climate resilient. By investing in green infrastructure, we will save lives and improve the quality of life for all city residents,” said Assembly Member David Weprin.
“Every year we are seeing stronger and more dangerous weather events and the communities that often get hit the hardest are low-income, immigrants, and people of color. We saw not only property damage, but loss of lives during Hurricane Ida and much of that happened in basement apartments that house these populations. I’m excited to work with the new Extreme Weather Coordinator and to see the implementation of programs for basement and cellar apartments as well as a plan to improve our infrastructure and the response before, after, and during these destructive storms,” said Council Member Darma Diaz.

“As the harsh impacts of climate change become increasingly apparent, the city’s multiagency program to proactively prepare for extreme weather is a step in the right direction,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik.  “New York City should continue to be a global leader in urban climate change readiness.”

"Ida proved that many areas of our city's sewer and drainage system are woefully inadequate, and that it can pose significant dangers to public health and safety during extreme weather events. Acknowledging this dire need to holistically reimagine a system that was designed a century ago is a welcome step toward a safer, sustainable and more resilient city,” said Council Member Peter Koo.

“Hurricane Ida is just the latest reminder: climate change is our new reality, and it is already impacting our communities,” said Council Member Selvena N. Brooks-Powers. “Our government must meet the urgency of the moment. I appreciate the City’s prompt commitment to new disaster preparedness strategies, backed by significant resiliency investments, which will ensure that our communities are better protected from future storms.”

“A collaborative team of researchers at the City University of New York (CUNY) and New York University (NYU) has demonstrated the utility of flood sensors to collect accurate, local, real-time information about street flooding in New York City during events like Ida,” said Brett Branco, Director of CUNY’s Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay located at Brooklyn College and a member of the FloodNet sensor team. “This technology and its applications developed in collaboration with communities and city agencies is an essential component of the comprehensive strategy presented in the Extreme Weather Response Task Force report, and will help prepare NYC for future extreme weather events and rising sea levels.”

"As co-authors of the framework, the Natural Areas Conservancy is thrilled that Mayor de Blasio and his administration have endorsed the Wetlands Management Framework for New York City in their latest efforts to improve the city's resilience to climate change. Understanding and investing in our natural areas should be an important part of our response to the climate crisis, and this is a crucial step in the right direction. By adopting the Wetlands Management Framework, the city is showing its commitment to properly investing in New York City’s hydrological infrastructure — infrastructure that will play an outsized role as our city continues to experience flooding and extreme weather events as a result of climate change,” said Sarah Charlop-Powers, Executive Director, Natural Areas Conservancy.

“The NHS of Queens welcomes the new report on fighting storm related extreme weather in NYC. Too often it is low income New Yorkers who suffer from the damages of large storms like Ida. We commend the Mayor for convening the Extreme Weather Taskforce and issuing its first report as the first steps in the right direction to address our City’s short and long term infrastructure needs.   In that report we are pleased that they will change how early warning tracking and alerts work. NYC is addressing how to best protect low income communities and this involves better warning and addressing living conditions that come as a result of economics and shortage of affordable housing. As learned from past natural disasters, our current physical and social services infrastructure are inadequate to fully address the current need especially our vulnerable communities. We need holistic approach and collaborative action across sector to help us make NYC a more resilient and a more equitable City especially for our ow to moderate income residents. This is a “win win” for the city and for communities of color all across NYC,” said Yoselin Genao Estrella, Executive Director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Queens.

“What the City has said today is that there is no more business as usual. Atmospheric changes are accelerating, meaning all systems that make urban life possible must change too, and without delay. This holistic, multi-agency, multi-disciplinary strategy if funded and implemented, will prepare New York City for the future weather extremes it is certain to face. The most encouraging parts of this plan are commitments to multiple ways of warning people about life threatening flooding, the use of existing places like parks and green space and to hold storm water during bursts of heavy unrelenting rain, assisting individuals with the tools and financing to retrofit building and homes, and the City’s commitments to work beyond its boundaries with New York State and federal programs.  Waterfront Alliance and the Rise to Resilience coalition are prepared to actively pursue legislative and regulatory changes to put these critical reforms in motion. Furthermore we applaud how this plan is clearly based in the reality of the price tag of a full-scale City-wide storm sewer system retrofit.  It provides feasible, creative and innovative ways to meet extreme weather head-on while billions are invested over time,” said Cortney Koenig Worrall, President and CEO, Waterfront Alliance.

“This extraordinary report thoroughly reviews the timeline and impact of Hurricane Ida, an unprecedented and unpredictable disaster for New York. But it also lays out a detailed blueprint for how, in the age of dangerous climate change, we must develop prevention and mitigation strategies that will save lives and protect vital infrastructure,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, Founding Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP).

“As we see climate change across the United States, I applaud the administration for addressing this ever-growing issue. Climate change is here and we can already see the effects as it threatens our vulnerable communities and coastlines. From wild fires to freezing rain, snow squalls to blizzards, and flash floods to coastal storms, it is key we tackle climate change aggressively. The extreme weather task force is just one step towards ensuring the safety of New Yorkers, as we move forward to combat climate change,” said Richard Serino, Former Deputy FEMA Administrator.

"The mix of policy, infrastructure, data, and communication initiatives presented in the Extreme Weather Response Task Force report is an important step in mitigating the impacts of future extreme precipitation events in NYC," said Andrea Silverman, professor of environmental engineering at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering and a member of the FloodNet sensor team. "It's exciting to see the inclusion of flood sensors, as they can aid NYC government agencies and NYC residents living in flood-vulnerable communities by providing high-quality data that can be used for improved resiliency planning, emergency response, and advocacy."

“We applaud the City and the Inter-Agency Task Force for this ambitious report that outlines the services, education, and financial investments necessary to meet the challenges of extreme weather,” said Jessica Wells-Hasan, VP for Development & External Affairs at the Center for New York City Neighborhoods. “Investing in historically ignored communities and in city-wide solutions like and housing retrofits are absolutely essential for homeowners and residents across New York, and we look forward to working with the city to deliver climate solutions equitably.”

“The Asian American Federation applauds the formation of the Extreme Weather Response Task Force, created to prepare for extreme weather events in New York City, as well as address the aftermath of such events.  As we saw with Hurricanes Sandy and Ida, the efforts to rebuild neighborhoods after these storms have been a herculean task.  The stories we heard after Ida have been heartbreaking.  As we see the impacts of global warming, the occurrences of these catastrophic events will unfortunately be more common. We need a plan that includes safety alerts and other in-language resources to keep all New Yorkers safe,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director Asian American Federation.

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