by Shana Kessler
Widener University Environmental Politics and Policy Student
It’s hard to believe that we’ve already reached the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. New York City is still feeling the effects, with 350 people still without homes and much clean-up and prevention to still execute. Hurricane Sandy was a moderately severe hurricane that incapacitated a metropolitan city in ways no one ever expected, and less wealthy cities with less preparation could be in for a terrible surprise with the rate of climate change. Urban areas are increasingly crowded and more at risk than ever. What constitutes enough preparation for a storm like Sandy, or worse? Who is most vulnerable to these storms, and what can be done to prevent the lasting ramifications in future hurricane seasons?
The Rockefeller Foundation has set up a $100 million effort to help cities like New York to face up to these inevitable superstorms and come out strong on the other side. 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge looks to assemble infrastructure investment, improve the coordination within the state, local and national governments, and open access to software and services that can help with the prediction and awareness of the coming storms. More than 1,000 cities have sent in grant proposals that Rockefeller is now sorting through – cities concerned with their infrastructure, the erosion of coastlines, and other factors that make them vulnerable, and who know they cannot depend on the coordination of the government. By applying for grants, cities agree to appoint a Chief Resilience Officer to create and implement a plan involving the private sector, civic society and community stakeholders. In return they get financial assistance, services, and support through things such as risk analysis software, architectural design studios to educate professionals on land use analysis and hydrology mapping, and so on. Efforts are aimed at unlocking more private infrastructure capital where public funding is not enough. If the initiative leads to less lives and property lost, and less economic disruption, then the program will be deemed successful.