Two-Thirds of New Yorkers Worry About the Next Superstorm, but They Want to Rebuild Anyway

Rebuild it, but rebuild it better. (Getty)

Rebuild it, but rebuild it better. (Getty)

“I do not believe, anymore, that this is once in a lifetime, once in a hundred years, once in a generation or just a fluke,” Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a few days after Sandy blew through town, and it appears many New Yorkers agree with him. A new Quinnipiac poll out today finds that two out of three state residents believe their community will be hit by a serious storm sometime in the next decade.

What is remarkable, then, is that the same poll also found that almost nine out of 10 New Yorkers believe we should rebuild in the areas hit by the superstorm. But most New Yorkers also want to build back with greater resiliency. The poll found that 65 percent of those responding want improved building codes to be implemented before anything is rebuilt in the flood zones, while 23 percent believe communities should be built as they were. Only 8 percent want to prohibit redevelopment.

“In the cleanup after Sandy, most New York State voters say there should be tougher building standards,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a release. “Voters on Long Island and in New York City, the areas hardest hit, support stricter codes.” But they do not blame climate change for the storm, he added. The poll found that 45 percent thought global warming had made the storm worse, while 50 percent did not.

When it comes to rebuilding, slightly more New York City residents wanted to abandon the coasts, with 9 percent in favor of not rebuilding, compared with 7 percent in each of the other sample areas, the suburbs, upstate and Long Island. Meanwhile, only 19 percent of five borough residents said we should rebuild as-is, compared with 21 percent in the suburbs and Long Island and 29 percent upstate. City residents want stronger codes by a margin of 68 percent.

As for the likelihood of another superstorm in the coming decade, 34 percent of poll respondents thought this was possible, while 33 percent said it was somewhat likely. There were 19 percent who thought another serious storm was not that likely, and 11 percent thought it would be a rare occurrence.

This probably helps explain why the last Q poll found that so many New Yorkers supported big expenditures on storm-proofing the city’s infrastructure.