Archive for the tag 'rebuilding'

Sheepshead Bay, post-Sandy. Source: U.S. Coast Guard, via the Office of Response and Restoration

Sheepshead Bay, post-Sandy. Source: U.S. Coast Guard, via the Office of Response and Restoration

New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program invites the community to provide input to the Sheepshead Bay/Gerritsen Beach NY Rising Community Reconstruction Plan.

There will be two consecutive meeting dates at different locations, either of which residents are invited to attend:

  • Monday, October 7 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Waterford on the Bay, 2900 Bragg Street
  • Tuesday, October 8 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Public School 277, 2529 Gerritsen Avenue

During the meeting you will:

  • Hear about the program and how it can help your community.
  • Provide input to the community’s vision for the future to increase resilience post-Sandy.
  • Tell the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program what issues you would like addressed in the recovery and mitigation plan.

If you are unable to attend and would like to provide input, visit and submit your comments via the yellow contact button on the right.

You can also join the conversation using the hashtag #NYRising on Twitter (@NYStormRecovery). Follow the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program on Facebook (NYStormRecovery) or go to For more information, email

Allan Tannenbaum, Untitled, 2012. © Allan Tannenbaum. (Courtesy of ICP via the Epoch Times)

Allan Tannenbaum, Untitled, 2012. © Allan Tannenbaum. (Courtesy of ICP via the Epoch Times)

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, a common theme circulating in the social and political atmosphere has been one of defiance. The message has been to rebuild and redevelop, even in the most vulnerable coastal communities. A report in Mother Jones is arguing that the attitude of continually trying to defy nature is costly, risky and could very well backfire despite billions in planned improvements.

In their analysis, Mother Jones target comments made by prominent political leaders and suggest that “retreating” from the coastline might be a more a realistic option:

Retreat needs to be considered not as a defeatist last-resort, but as proactive strategy needed in some places.

Take New York City, for example, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed 257 initiatives to be pursued over the next 10 years at an estimated $20 billion. He has repeatedly emphasized that the city “will not retreat from the waterfront.” But it will be hard to stand by this categorical commitment as sea levels continue to rise.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $400 million home-buyout program, of which a meager $170 million has been HUD-approved. Only homes with damage more than 50 percent of their value are eligible. The Oak Beach community in Staten Island has applied as a pilot program for a community-based buyout, but hasn’t yet been approved. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is encouraging rapid rebuilding while also proposing a limited buyout program. But with no funding set aside for it, he has made clear he prefers to rebuild rather than retreat.

The report lays out the case that rising flood insurance premiums coupled with expensive new building regulations laid out by FEMA create unfavorable options for homeowners trying to live in coastal communities. Previously, we had reported on the new flood lines drawn by FEMA that will drastically increase costs for homeowners in vulnerable areas. For example, if you have a $250,000 home with a ground floor four feet below sea level, and cannot meet FEMA’s new building regulations, you may have to pay $9,500 a year in flood insurance. By comparison, a home hoisted three feet above the flood line will only have to pay $427 a year, but the cost of doing so will be expensive.

It is because of these reasons that the Mother Jones report is advocating other options like buyouts, curtailing development and fixing the infrastructure:

These options should include support for buyouts in mid-Atlantic communities, at least for coastal and estuary locations that are either at elevations of ten feet or less above the local mean higher high tide or 5 feet above the latest mapped FEMA 1 percent per year base flood elevations, whichever is higher. Once buyouts at these elevations are secured, they should progress to higher elevations.

Disallow new residential development in those low-lying elevations unless it is flood-adapted (safely moored and floatable or substantially raised with raised or floodable utility connections). With urgency, local building codes need to be re-written to take this into account, since those specifications don’t yet exist.

Know that flood-protective structures—sea gates, levees, or walls—have limits. To start, sea levels will inevitably surpass their finite design heights. But before that ever happens, they introduce their own collateral hazards. A barrier system meant to protect an estuary or river with considerable discharge could flood communities behind the protective systems.

Develop a set of land-use priorities. Infrastructure, including transportation networks, sewage treatment plants, solid waste facilities, energy supply and distribution systems, utilities, and public health facilities demand the highest priorities for adaptation, whether by protectionaccommodation (some utility distribution systems could be made submergible; other system elements could be raised or made floatable); or by retreat to higher ground. In any case, for this essential infrastructure, higher flood standards need to be considered (such as the 0.2%/year flood elevations), and margins for sea level rise must be added that are in a time horizon commensurate with the expected lifetime of the facility itself. New rights of way will need to be relocated from low-lying areas to higher elevations.

The report even goes as far to suggest creating alternatives to subway systems, which they believe are too vulnerable to constant predicted future flooding, calling for an overhaul of the century old rail system.

Interesting stuff. Whether or not you accept the recommendations in this report, the critical point is that the city is at a crossroads with billions of federal dollars to spend on potential solutions. It is up to our political leaders, engineers and city planners to make sure that they are covering every angle of the recovery process and make decisions that mitigate the full impact of future natural disasters.

The Brooklyn Community Foundation is now accepting applications from local residents looking for funding to rebuild and repair their homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

This latest effort by the BCF, known as the Community Grant Rebuilding Program, is focused on physically improving homes and buildings located in Brooklyn’s coastal communities. They are centering their efforts on mold removal, the replacement of heating and electrical systems and structural repairs for one to four family homes, non-profit facilities and buildings used by small businesses.

Here are the relevant details:

Priority will be given to proposals from community development and non-profit housing corporations and other qualified organizations with deep knowledge of and experience with mold removal, mold remediation, and housing and building repair/maintenance. We require partnerships between applicants and local service providers and organizations from each impacted community. Together the partnership should demonstrate an ability to provide an up to date community needs assessment about the status of building repair and a plan of action to help individuals, businesses, and institutions move from “rescue” to recovery and rebuilding.  In Red Hook and Coney Island, we will require that all grantees work in partnership with the collaboratives that have been funded through BRF’s first round of recovery grants and will provide you with the information necessary to connect to these organizations.
All funding requests are due no later than Monday, February 4, 2013. We will make every effort to have all funding decisions made by Monday, February 11, 2013.
Target Neighborhoods:
Brooklyn coastal communities that experienced severe storm damage: Red Hook, the Coney Island peninsula, Sheepshead Bay, Canarsie, and Gerritsen Beach.
Grant Amounts:
A limited number of grants are available, up to $200,000 per impacted community (Red Hook, the Coney Island peninsula, Sheepshead Bay, Canarsie, and Gerritsen Beach).
  • Community development and non-profit housing corporations and other qualified organizations who have established or can demonstrate an ability to establish close working relationships with local nonprofits serving communities or residents impacted by Super Storm Sandy.
Application Guidelines:
  • Provide brief mission statement and history of your organization.
  • What qualifications do you possess to address mold removal, mold remediation, and building repair/maintenance? How will you partner and coordinate with organizations physically located in the impacted community? If you already have an established relationship, who is your/are your partner(s) and what type of partnership currently exists?
  • What nonprofits, government entities, and/or community groups have you been working with to address recovery and rebuilding needs?
  • If you received prior funding from the BRF, how does this request complement your previous request?
  • How will you define and measure the success of this project?
  • Be sure that your application includes full contact information (address, telephone, email) for this request’s point person; also include the community where this work will take place.
  • Only ONE grantee per impacted community will be selected.
  • Please limit your request to no more than 3 pages; not including attachments.
  • Required Documents:
1.   Organization budget
2.   Project budget
3.   Most recent IRS 990 Form
4.   Most recent Financial Audit (note:  if your organization uses a fiscal sponsor, please provide its audit and 990)
5.   Board of Directors
Submit via email or fax requested narrative and attachments by Monday, February 4, 2013 to:
Toya Williford
Program Director
Brooklyn Community Foundation
45 Main Street, #409
Brooklyn, NY  11201
Fax:  718-722-5757
Any questions please contact Toya Williford at 718.722.5352 or