In Hurricane Ida's wake, NYC unveils blueprint to combat extreme weather

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- In the wake of historic flooding and more than a dozen deaths cause by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday unveiled a new plan to combat extreme weather.

"The New Normal: Combatting Storm-Related Extreme Weather in New York City" was prepared by the Extreme Weather Response Task Force, made up of senior leaders across city agencies and outside experts on climate change and resiliency, provides a new blueprint to prepare for and respond to extreme weather.

The mayor announced plans to support the report's recommendations with $2.1 billion in new funding at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), $238 million in accelerated funding for crucial DEP projects, $400 million in new funding for other priority capital projects, and $25 million in expense funding for Fiscal Year 2022.

"Extreme weather is more common than ever, and more severe than ever," de Blasio said. "Business as usual is over. Keeping New Yorkers safe means profoundly changing the way we prepare for and react to this new normal. This new report charts a path forward for investing in vulnerable neighborhoods, shoring up our infrastructure, warning communities ahead of major weather events, and better tracking storms before they arrive."

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The mayor also announced the creation of New York City's first "Rainboots on the Ground" program to distribute educational information on evacuation procedures to basement apartment residents and vulnerable neighborhoods.

Starting in 2022, the city will contract with 60 community-based organizations to canvass these neighborhoods and highlight the threats posed by storm water and extreme weather.

De Blasio also announced the creation of a new Extreme Weather Coordinator position in City Hall.

The position will work closely with New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) and other agencies to lead and organize extreme weather response.

Deputy Mayor for Administration Emma Wolfe will be the first to serve in this role.

"New Yorkers have seen the effects of extreme weather on their communities, and they know it's happening more frequently than ever before," she said. "With this blueprint, their city will be as tough, prepared, and resilient as they are. Thanks to targeted investments and better storm tracking, New York City will be more prepared than ever to keep the city safe from extreme weather."

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The report outlines detailed new strategies to:
--Educate, train, and acclimate New Yorkers to this new reality
--Increase planning for the worst-case scenario in every instance
--Accelerate upgrades to storm modeling, tracking, and alert systems
--Broaden protection for inland communities, not only our coastlines
--Protect basement and cellar occupants
--Prioritize investments in low-income neighborhoods, immigrant communities, and communities of color
--Re-imagine our sewage and drainage system, and rapidly increase green infrastructure and cloudburst solutions
--Call on support from the state and federal government in further depending our reach

CLICK HERE to read the full report.

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