3,843 miles away from New York City and across the Atlantic Ocean is a city that knows how to deal with flooding from heavy rains. We’re talking about Copenhagen, a city that got slammed in 2011 when a storm dropped six inches of rain in two hours. After that, the Denmark capital came up with a plan to better deal with frequent flooding and excessive runoff from intense storms. After superstorm Sandy in 2012, 51 square miles in New York City were flooded and city officials knew changes had to be made, especially now that frequent storms were a regular part of the weather pattern due to climate change. City officials heard that Copenhagen developed a plan to handle storm water problems with, among other practices, replacing the non-absorptive asphalt with vegetation and different grasses, lowering playgrounds and other recreational areas so they can hold water during a storm. A year later New York City began a cloudburst study in southeastern Queens and Jamaica Bay where flooded streets and basements are a constant because of sea-level rise. A public housing project known as South Jamaica Houses is not slated for a pilot program to reduce flooding and improve street conditions. The $1.9 billion project is earmarked for 45 infrastructure projects to be completed in the next 10 years.
This particular effort towards building stronger resiliency is definitely the right step, and although a second pilot-project is being considered for another heavily flooded area, St. Albans, Queens, cherry picking different areas one at a time may not be enough. Unlike cities in Europe, who can look at the bigger picture, New York City needs to think more globally at how certain resilient steps can work for entire neighborhoods and the city as a whole.