It’s not the holiday homecoming that Hurricane Sandy refugees had dreamed of, but a temporary apartment is a definite upgrade from a shelter, a hotel room or a couch.
“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. Read More
Recently, The Observer reported on a secret plan the Bloomberg administration has been developing for years now to create a disaster housing model that suits the peculiarities of city living. The city has settled on a model built on stackable shipping container apartments, but the housing remains a few years away from being deployable.
Still, some news yesterday reaffirmed the importance of the city developing its own disaster housing model, since national models may not work here, due to issues of density and open space suitable for installing the infamous FEMA trailer. Indeed, FEMA announced that it will not be setting up its own shelters in New York because there is not enough room, as WNYC reports. Read More
Earlier today, we ran a post about how Bill Rudin rather pragmatically welcomed the flooding of the Brooklyn Batter Tunnel, for it provided a modicum of protection to some of his buildings downtown that might otherwise have been flooded. This afternoon, we found a statement in our inbox from Mr. Rudin that seemed to indicate—as we had in the original piece—that floodable tunnels and other innovative flood control measures might not actually be the worst idea. The Observer asked a Rudin spokesperson for more context on the statement, but this is all we’ve got. Read More
Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc across the city, including Lower Manhattan, where flooding into tunnels shut down both subway and vehicular traffic for weeks. In a story looking at flooding in the Hugh Carey Brooklyn-Battery tunnel, Dana Rubinstein reveals that none other than developer, macher and civic bigwig Bill Rudin actually welcomed the flooding because it protected some of his harborside buildings. Read More
That was the question The Observer put to a group of planning and infrastructure experts yesterday, after Senator Chuck Schumer announced that he expected the state to receive about $9 billion for storm mitigation measures, as part of its request to Congress for Sandy aid. After all, that is far from enough money to build some of those vaunted sea gates, though there is nothing to suggest more money might not be on the horizon in the future.
For now, though, here are their recommendations on what to do with $9 billion in new storm-securing infrastructure investments. Read More
Hurricane Sandy was a moment of reckoning for the city, and that reckoning has begun. The general consensus is that the city and the state must build back better, stronger and quite likely differently than before. Are sea walls appropriate? Should we let people live on barrier islands? What kind of improvements should be made to our transportation infrastructure, and how?
These are among the questions our leaders will be grappling with, and to help answer them, Gov. Cuomo has just announced three new commissions, NYS 2100, NYS Respond and NYS Ready. The commissioners are a who’s who of business, infrastructure, environmental, planning, utilities and emergency preparedness professionals and experts. As Gov. Cuomo made clear, their job is neither simple nor easy. Read More
We have all had that moment, post-Sandy, where the breadth of the storm’s damage has finally sunk in. For New Yorkers for Parks, that moment came on Nov. 9, when the group was asked by the Coney Island Development Corporation to do a survey of the neighborhood’s public spaces. What its staff found shocked them.
“The open spaces of Coney Island felt forlorn and forgotten when the staff of New Yorkers for Parks arrived,” wrote the group in an account on its site. “Scenes were eerie as we began our assessment. The neighborhood seemed frozen in a moment of shock. Formerly flooded cars were parked hopelessly with open hoods. Residents waited on corners below broken traffic lights, asking when food would arrive. Some lingered by waterlogged couches, chairs and dining room sets waiting for garbage pickup. Boxes of rotted bananas, once slated for delivery, stretched half a block near the Haber Houses. There was little moving, other than the occasional utility truck or emergency vehicle. The next day, several hundred volunteers would arrive, eager to help. But that Friday provided a tragic post-Sandy snapshot.” Read More
In this week’s Observer we go inside City Hall’s quiet program to create a new disaster housing model to house New Yorkers displaced by the next superstorm or some other unforeseen catastrophe. Because of New York’s dense urban environment, any disaster housing would have to be big, in order to accommodate lots of residents, but also compact, since there is not much room to build these things.
The city has so far hit upon the novel idea of using shipping containers to house the displaced, stacking prefabricated modules one on top of another. It is an innovative model the likes of which are untested worldwide, but already one company has built a prototype in South Jersey, and the city is prepared to test out some version of it as early as next year. So please, step inside what could be your apartment for a year or two after the next big one hits. Read More
If another Sandy hits a year or three from now, few New Yorkers should have to call tent cities and high school gymnasiums home.
Instead, they will be living inside shipping containers.
For the past five years, the Bloomberg administration has been quietly developing a first-of-its-kind disaster housing program, creating modular apartments uniquely designed for the challenges of urban living. Carved out of shipping containers, these LEGO-like, stackable apartments offer all the amenities of home. Or more, since they are bigger, and brighter, than the typical Manhattan studio. It’s the FEMA trailer of the future, built with the Dwell reader in mind.
“It’s nicer than my apartment,” David Burney, commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction, said in a phone interview last week. Read More