The New York City Council announced a package of legislation on Tuesday that seeks to improve the city’s infrastructure in the aftermath of Sandy, as well as better prepare the city for future storms.
The first bill would require the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability to determine how feasible it might be to relocate some power lines under ground. Currently, many power lines outside of Manhattan are above ground and sustained damage during the storm. By relocating some of these lines underground, Speaker Christine Quinn says they would not only be protected against future hurricanes, but also from severe wind storms, which often knock out lines and electricity for days in various parts of the city.
The second bill proposes adopting FEMA’s updated flood evacuation maps, which are to be released later this week. Because many of FEMA’s flood maps did not cover areas of the city that ended up flooded by the storm surge, this bill would expand the areas of the city that will need to abide by the City’s Building Code flood proofing requirements.
The last two bills would require the raising of elevation levels for buildings in areas that are more susceptible to flooding, as well as for healthcare facilities throughout the city. These new regulations would ensure that these buildings align with the state and national flood construction requirements that are already in place.
The council will also begin holding oversight hearings beginning in January to evaluate the city’s response before, during and after Sandy. The hearings will cover a wide array of topics, such as disaster preparedness in hospitals to evacuation plans in public housing.