Mayor: City Working on Storm, Climate Prep

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that New York City needs to work on upgrading building codes and evacuation-zone maps, hardening power and transportation networks, and making sure hospitals are better prepared for storms.

Bloomberg discussed the response to Sandy and climate change during a speech Thursday to an audience that consisted mostly of the city’s business community — including Con Edison, Verizon and the real estate company Durst.

He said the city is still focused on recovering from the October 29 storm, but officials have also started thinking about preparations for the next major weather event.

The mayor appointed two of his deputies—Cas Holloway and Linda Gibbs—to head-up a review of the city’s preparation and response to Sandy.

Seth Pinsky, the president of the city’s economic development corporation, is charged with recovery plans for areas most hard-hit by the storm.

Bloomberg also lamented the failures of the city’s major infrastructure networks, saying repairs need to focus improvement, not just replacements. He noted that Con Ed has agreed to spend $250 million to upgrade its electrical, steam and gas systems in shape to withstand a Category 2 hurricane.

“We have to re-examine all of our major infrastructure in light of Sandy—and how we can adapt and modernize it, in order to protect,” Bloomberg said.

City officials will work on plan to help Sandy-ravaged areas recover and mitigate future disasters. That will include weighing coast-protection options although the mayor said he is opposed to building seawalls. The mayor said he supports rebuilding in coastal communities and plans to rethink evacuation areas.

He said he'll work with Council Speaker Christine Quinn to make adjustments to the building codes to guard against flooding.

"Let me be clear: We are not going to abandon the waterfront," Bloomberg sad. But "we have to build smarter and stronger and more sustainable.”