City Council Criticizes City Hall over Lagging Superstorm Sandy Response

At a recent Environment Protection Committee hearing, council members from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan questioned Jainey Bavishi, director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency. With regard to resiliency projects since Superstorm Sandy, lawmakers stressed that many are still in their infancy, such as a project to reduce the risk of power failure to the city’s core food processing hub in the south Bronx, and a flood barrier in Coney Island Creek.

Lawmakers expressed frustration that much of the holdup in post-Sandy progress stems from disputes between the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which began issuing its promised $10 billion storm recovery package in 2015. FEMA and the de Blasio administration have been unable to agree on boundaries of zones where owners with federally insured mortgages would be required to get often-pricey flood insurance. FEMA’s proposed flood map is far more extensive than the area the city says it should cover. In the meantime, the number of flood insurance policies has dropped in every borough, except for Manhattan, since 2013.

Councilmember Justin Brannan, a Democrat who represents flood-threatened parts of southern Brooklyn and chairs the council’s Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts, has announced plans for a hearing on Nov. 13 concerning revelations that nearly 85 percent of homes in coastal areas federal officials deem very vulnerable to the next disaster don’t have flood insurance.