FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22

June 26, 2019
Contact: Terence Cullen
718-274-4500

All At-Risk Neighborhoods Would Be Protected from Violent Threats of Climate Change

New York City Hall — Council Members Costa Constantinides and Justin Brannan today introduced a bill requiring a five-borough resiliency plan that will ensure every neighborhood from Riverdale to Rockaway is protect from rising sea levels, violent weather and coastal erosion brought about by climate change. 

This legislation comes amid dire warnings from the New York City Panel on Climate Change, which noted coast parts of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx are most at risk of flooding. An estimated 500,000 New Yorkers live near the City’s 300 miles of shoreline and are constantly at risk of climbing sea levels, which are on pace to rise one foot by 2050. 

“Sandy marched onto our shores more than six years ago, caused more than $19 billion in damages, and yet we are ill equipped for when the next storm rolls around,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “New Yorkers deserve a mapped-out resiliency plan that protects every community — instead of a single neighborhood. I look forward to working with Council Member Brannan, Chair of the Committee on Resiliency, in making this legislation into life-saving policy.” 

“Seven years after Sandy, the worst natural disaster in our city’s history, many communities in the outer boroughs are still rebuilding and recovering,” said Council Member Justin Brannan, Chair of the Committee on Resiliency. “I love me some lower Manhattan, but we are a city of waterfronts in all five boroughs. As we continue to contend with the rising effects of climate change, we owe it to all New Yorkers to make sure their neighborhoods are resilient, no matter what their zip code is.”

Despite billions of dollars in damages by Sandy, the City of New York has used a paltry 14% of the $473 million in federal aid dedicated to resiliency projects along its coast, according to the Comptroller’s Office. Barely half of the city’s overall federal disaster relief — close to $15 billion — has been spent overall. The City is at risk of losing some grants if projects aren’t completed within the next three years. Investing in resiliency projects is crucial because each federal dollar dedicated now, as construction and property values continue to rise, saves $6 in flood mitigation when the next Sandy pummels New York City.

Warnings from the New York Panel on Climate Change’s latest report appear to make this all but certain. Low-lying and coastal communities around Jamaica Bay — including Howard Beach and the Rockaways — along with Brooklyn’s southern shore could see monthly flooding beginning in the 2050s, which might only get worse as the century progresses. Some scenarios projected climbing seas will “raise daily tidal flooding to levels even more severe than that which occurred during Hurricane Sandy.” By 2100, the panel noted in some projections, John F. Kennedy International Airport could be underwater. 

Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.

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