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New York City Has Seventh Fastest Rising Flood Risk in Nation

New York City

Flood risk, Hurricane Sandy, coastal protections, FEMA.

A street in the East Village during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Aug. 29, 2022

New York City is among metropolises across the country that are categorized as cities with “substantial risk” when it comes to flooding. The First Street Foundation, a research firm that studies climate, estimates that by the year 2050, the city's current risk level as measured in 2020 will grow by just over 20%, the seventh fastest growing rate across the country, Crain's reports. New Orleans leads the way with a staggering likely increase of more than 200%, followed by Jacksonville, Fla., Virginia Beach, Va., San Diego, Tampa and Cape Coral, Fla.

The stakes of the increased risk are high: there are 615,000 properties across New York State that are at risk of flooding as of 2020. That number is expected to increase to 688,800 by 2050, a 12% shift. The greatest share of that increase, 121,200, are located in the city, representing 14% of all the properties in the five boroughs.

Of those properties at risk, 67% are at “major risk,” according to the data. Areas at a "relatively high" risk include Coney Island, Howard Beach, Starrett City, Sheepshead Bay. The highest risk areas of Manhattan are Murray Hill and Kips Bay.

Meanwhile, nearly a decade after Hurricane Sandy, critical climate resiliency projects remain stuck in a web of bureaucracy, as also reported. by Crain's. A March 2019 audit by Comptroller Scott Stringer showed that the city had spent only 54% of $14.7 billion in federal grant dollars allocated toward Sandy recovery and resilience projects. Of the $473.2 million of that money earmarked for coastal protections, only 14% had been utilized.

The city has had more success with building out its smaller-scale green infrastructure initiatives, but just 21% of the more than 7,300 rain gardens, permeable surfaces and other efforts to soak up rainwater launched after 2016 were actually complete as of September, according to a report from the Center for an Urban Future

Since 2000, 571,600 property owners across the state have filed flood damage claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with the highest concentrations coming from Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.

According to census tracking data from FEMA and the Department of City Planning, neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens are the most at-risk of coastal flooding.

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