New York neighborhood criticized by Ida may not be priority for climate funds – NBC New York
On 183rd Street in the Hollis neighborhood of Queens, Angshu Baidya’s house is still a mess.
Twelve months after Ida’s floodwaters passed, Baidya says its basement foundations are still compromised. He says much of his electrical wiring is temporary. And his sewer pipe is still damaged. If anyone has felt the crushing impact of climate change, Baidya says it’s her family.
“My ground is fragile. I have a video. Everything. But no one is helping me,” Baidya said.
When the storm flooded the intersection of 183rd Street and 90th Avenue, two people drowned in a basement apartment across from Baidya.
The human and material losses are indisputable. And flash flooding has been a recurring problem at the Baidya intersection for years. But it turns out that New York State doesn’t consider its neighborhood “disadvantaged” for the purposes of determining who should be prioritized for climate change financial aid.
Current state criteria for assessing climate change loads include measures of coastal and riverine flood risk, but do not include a measure of flash flood risk.
Residents of the tri-state area are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Ida a year later, reports Sarah Wallace.
In 2019, New York lawmakers passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which promised that “disadvantaged communities” – those hardest hit by climate change – should be prioritized to receive at least 35% benefits associated with state spending on clean energy programs and investments in housing, workforce development, transportation and economic development.
To determine which neighborhoods would get the “disadvantaged” designation, a designated team called the Climate Justice Working Group (CJWG) looked at 170 different indicators of environmental and socio-economic burden. The group initially chose 45 of these indicators as criteria for climate disadvantage, but the risk of flash flooding was omitted.
“[P]storm flooding, or flash and surface flooding, is an indicator that the CJWG considered,” said an emailed statement from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.[But] it was determined that a robust initial statewide dataset was not available at the time.
DEC pointed out that the current map of disadvantaged communities is only a draft and that the advisory committee may choose to include a measure of flash flood risk in the future, particularly if new data becomes available or are identified. But some say governments around the world already have the tools to start integrating flash flood risk into their decisions about how to allocate resilience and storm response funds.
“We now have access to higher resolution data, which means we can see, street by street, what the levels of climate risk are,” said Andrew Kruczkiewicz, an expert in flash flood early warning systems. at the Columbia Climate School.
Kruczkiewicz said policymakers and their constituents often underestimate the risk of flash floods when deciding how to respond to climate change — because big coastal storms with massive storm surges — like Superstorm Sandy — have tendency to monopolize people’s memory.
“Flash floods are happening now and the impact is getting worse and worse,” Kruczkiewicz said. “If you look at the loss of life of Sandy and Ida, it’s not that different.”
Thursday marks one year since the remnants of Hurricane Ida hit all three states, and today the New York City Comptroller is proposing new measures to protect people living in basement apartments. News 4’s Melissa Colorado reports.
In August, 14 elected leaders in Queens signed a letter urging the Hochul administration to update criteria for classifying “disadvantaged communities” to include risks associated with flash flooding.
“We are writing to urge the Climate Justice Task Force to ensure that flooding in coastal, tidal and inland areas are given added weight as indicators,” the letter read.
Queens Borough chairman Donovan Richards was one of those who signed the letter. He worries if the state’s criteria for “disadvantaged” status aren’t changed, the state risks favoring wealthier coastal and riverside neighborhoods over inland blocks where middle- and middle-income New Yorkers live. weak.
“These communities are the hardest hit at the slightest hint of rain,” Donovan said. “There’s no other way around this. It’s environmental racism if we don’t tackle it.”
Over the past 20 years, floods have become the most common disaster in the United States. They now occur three times more often than before the year 2000. Chase Cain, LX News climate storyteller, joins LX News to learn more about the causes of these floods and their impact on the conversation around the climate change in the next elections.
The Hochul administration has pointed out that communities that do not qualify for “disadvantaged” status under the climate law may still be eligible for climate change funding and assistance. In November, voters in New York state will decide whether to approve a $4.2 billion environmental bond, part of which could be spent on restoring flood-ravaged homes.
New York City is currently deciding how to allocate a block federal grant of $25 million that could also be used to retrofit single-family homes hit hard by the storms. FEMA has already disbursed millions of dollars to help rebuild homes in Queens ravaged by Ida, including $1.3 million that went to 202 households in Hollis, where Angshu Baidya lives.
Baidya says the money he received from FEMA was used up on initial cleanup costs associated with pumping water out of his home last year.
“FEMA gave money, but that money was just for cleanup,” Baidya said.