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Coastal Flood Adaptation

New York City implements layers of coastal resiliency to adapt to increasing coastal storm surge and chronic tidal flooding.

The increasing threats caused by coastal flooding present complex challenges that require innovative adaptation solutions. Climate adaptation will require significant investments in new and existing buildings, infrastructure, and more sustainable land use policies. No single strategy or project will eliminate all coastal flood risks. Multiple layers of resiliency – including resilient green and grey infrastructure, coastal protection projects, emergency communication, building code and zoning regulations updates, and flood insurance – are critical components of the city’s coastal flood adaptation planning.

New York City relies on climate science and analysis to learn more about increasing coastal flood risks.

  • In partnership with NYU and CUNY, the city launched FloodNet, a cooperative of communities, researchers, and New York City government agencies that work to better understand the frequency, severity, and impacts of flooding in New York City. The data and knowledge gained can be used by residents, researchers, city agencies, and advocates to reduce flood risk. New Yorkers can view a live dashboard of local flooding conditions.
  • The NYC Department of City Planning Flood Hazard Mapper provides a comprehensive overview of the coastal flood hazards that threaten the city today, as well as how these hazards are likely to increase in the future with climate change.
  • The Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice is leading the development of Future Flood Risk Maps that accurately depict current coastal flood risk and future sea level rise. These maps will be used for building and planning purposes.
  • City is producing a coastal flood vulnerability index in the form of a spatial analysis tool that will enable visualization of coastal flood vulnerability at a local level.

NYC is protecting and expanding natural coastal resources and constructing new coastal protection infrastructure, instituting policies and standards for new construction and retrofitting existing buildings and infrastructure to be more resilient to coastal surge flooding.

    • Since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, NYC has created an entirely new class of infrastructure for the city–coastal protection projects that protect our waterfront neighborhoods from devastating storm surge and regular tidal flooding. These complex projects are among the first of their kind in a dense urban environment like New York City. Learn more about coastal infrastructure projects.
    • NYC Parks has partnered with the US National Parks Service and the US Army Corps of Engineers improving out natural systems by managing and preserving 10,000 acres of wetlands at Jamaica Bay which provides critical resiliency benefits for coastal storm surge.
    • New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is building back safer, stronger, and smarter by improving structural resiliency and infrastructure protection. 35 NYCHA developments have received over $3 billion in resiliency funding through FEMA. 20 NYCHA developments are receiving new flood-proofed heating and hot water systems. 210 building are now powered by permanent, full-load generators for power outages. See more about  NYCHA’s Sandy Recovery & Progress.
    • The City has undertaken extensive outreach and education through FloodHelpNY.org to increase NFIP enrollment by about 50% since Hurricane Sandy. The City is committed to expanding outreach and education efforts about flood risk and flood insurance to increase awareness and drive flood insurance uptake among homeowners, renters, and business owners to support New Yorkers physical and financial resiliency.
    • NYC has developed guidance for the planning and design of neighborhood coastal flood protection projects that are equitable, resilient, and well-designed. Read the Neighborhood Coastal Flood Protection Project Planning Guidance.
    • The NYC Department of Buildings has established comprehensive building code regulations in the coastal floodplain to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare and minimize damages from coastal flooding.
    • The NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) has updated zoning regulations—Zoning for Coastal Flood Resiliency (ZCFR)— that allow homeowners, business owners, architects and others to design resilient buildings that are better protected from flood risk, reduce flood insurance costs, and recover quickly from other future disasters. Additionally, DCP created Special Coastal Risk Districts in 2017 to address coastal areas that are currently at exceptional risk from flooding.
    • NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted the NYC Wastewater Resiliency Plan, a comprehensive study that examined buildings and infrastructure at 95 pumping stations and 14 wastewater resource recovery facilities, identifying and prioritizing infrastructure that is most at risk of flood damage. Through the study, DEP developed a set of recommended design standards and cost-effective protective measures tailored to each facility to improve resiliency in the face of future flood events. These standards and recommendations are currently being implemented.
    • Supporting small businesses, the backbone of the City’s economy, through expanding SBS Business PREP (BPREP) citywide to help small businesses better prepare for emergencies like those caused by flooding and power outages. The City is expanding the program through a $3M commitment to reach an additional 1,040 businesses citywide, on top of the $7.1 million already invested. Through the Build It Back program, administered by the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations, the City helped 12,500 families recover from Hurricane Sandy by providing resources for impacted New Yorkers in all five boroughs to repair, rebuild, and elevate their homes, or relocate.

NYC will continue to work with partners and advocate for funding that supports the development and implementation of coastal resiliency programs and projects.

  • The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in partnership with New York DEC, New Jersey DEP, and the City of New York, will study the management of future coastal flood risk through the NY& NJ Harbor & Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Study (HATS) to support the long-term resilience and sustainability of the coastal ecosystem and surrounding communities, and reduce the economic costs and risks associated with flood and storm events.
  • NYC Department of City Planning’s Comprehensive Waterfront Plan NYC’s vision for a more equitable, more resilient, and healthier waterfront for all New Yorkers.
  • Building on precedents set after Sandy, NYC will incorporate future flood risk into building and zoning code requirements based on the development of a groundbreaking Future Flood Risk Map that incorporates climate projections.
  • The City will expand FloodNet to 500 sensors over the next 5 years, with locations to be determined by an analysis of stormwater risk, tidal flooding risk, storm damages, environmental justice history, social vulnerability, critical infrastructure, and proximity to wireless network connections.
  • Supporting small businesses, the backbone of the City’s economy, through expanding citywide to help small businesses better prepare for emergencies like those caused by flooding and power outages. The City is expanding the program through a $3M commitment to reach an additional 1,040 businesses citywide, on top of the $7.1 million already invested.
  • Working with city agency, non-profit, and private partners to develop programs, resources, and financing to support critical infrastructure protections; and to deploy building-level retrofits that are not only resilient but sustainable in single and multi-family buildings, such as backwater valves, installation of flood-resistant materials, and the elevation of mechanical systems in at-risk communities.
  • The City is actively advocating for the state to pass Progressive Design Build legislation to more efficiently design and build critical resiliency infrastructure.
  • The City is also advocating for the federal government to create a coastal infrastructure formula funding program for pre-disaster mitigation. Without dedicated formula funding it is difficult to be efficient and effective in executing large scale multi-year projects. As a nation, we allocate formula funds for recognized needs such as housing and transportation – resiliency must be added to that list.

For more information see Climate Change Challenge pages Coastal Surge Flooding and Chronic Tidal Flooding.

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