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Monday, September 27, 2021

Ida’s Reminder That Climate Policy Should Be Built on Resilience, Not Delusion

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Flooded cars are seen after the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused flash floods in Mamaroneck, N.Y., September 2, 2021. (Mike Segar/Reuters) The week of August 30, 2021: climate change, landlords, stakeholder capitalism, and much more.

I was infinitely more fortunate than many, many people, but my Wednesday evening still did not go entirely as planned. I emerged from a cinema to find a downpour, the subway down, and that cabs were nowhere to be seen. Passing on the chance to join a sodden group sheltering in an ATM zone, I trudged the 25 or so blocks home, thinking about . . . infrastructure.

Nearly a decade after the (far more destructive) Hurricane Sandy, New York City’s preparedness for, yes, an astonishingamount of rain — an aftershock from Hurricane Ida — appeared less than impressive. And this was not the only time that something like this has happened recently. In July part of the subway had found itself underwater after another downpour, on that occasion in the wake of Hurricane Elsa.

The New York Times (from July):

When fast-moving storms flooded parts of New York City’s vast subway system on Thursday, they stranded some rush-hour commuters and underscored just how vulnerable the city’s underground transportation lifeline is to water . . .

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the 472-station subway, has spent $130 million to address water issues as part of a 2017 subway action plan, including cleaning and repairing 40,000 street and sidewalk vents that allow water to run down into the subway, and clearing drainage pipes under tracks and inside stations that carry rainwater to pumps . . .

To be fair, much more than that has been spent on toughening the system.

John Surico for Bloomberg:

New Yorkers can’t help but ask just what the MTA has accomplished since 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. After nine years and at least $5 billion of repairs designed to harden the system against the threats of inundation, why are subway riders still getting washed out? The catch, says Freudenberg, is that deluges like this are different because they don’t just hit coastal areas.

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