While the majority of New York City is pre-occupied with the recovery efforts post-Hurricane Sandy, the Department of City Planning (DCP) is discussing and introducing different measures that can be taken to protect our buildings from future storms. At a review session yesterday, Howard Slatkin, the Director of Sustainability and Deputy Director of Strategic Planning for the DCP, presented Hurricane Sandy: Initial Lessons for Buildings. From the start, Slatkin maintained that newly constructed buildings designed to code “fared better.” He listed several buildings—such as The Edge in Williamsburg, IKEA in Red Hook, and Arverne by the Sea in the Rockaways—as examples of new developments that successfully withstood the storm.
Arverne by the Sea in the Rockaways. (Courtesy of Arverne by the Sea)
“Ninety-eight percent of buildings destroyed by the storm were built pre-1983,” said Slatkin. “If you design buildings to the proper standards, they can survive flooding.”
Even with those findings, Slatkin said the storm “exceeded both the boundaries and flood heights of the current FEMA 100-year flood zones.” He reinforced the need for upgrades to building codes that would require “freeboarding,” which means elevating the lowest floor of a building. Beyond building codes, Slatkin touched upon the need to implement changes to the flood maps, and revealed that this will happen in the very near future.
“FEMA is expediting the release of the new FEMA map,” said Slatkin who anticipates this will happen at the end of this month. FEMA recently posted new flood elevation maps for 10 counties in New Jersey.