Date of Award



Edward Van Buren


After tropical storm Sandy battered the East Coast in October 2012, New York City was damaged extensively by flooding, high-intensity winds and the resultant flames. The resultant flooding rendered many underground subway lines unusable along the southern coasts for an extended period of time, as well as damaging buried electrical wiring. These outages were compounded by the hi-strength winds in the upper areas that also brought down above ground wiring. The lack of electricity for use in traffic lights, care facilities, emergency services and mass transit had a staggeringly adverse impact on public health.

In the upcoming effort to rebuild the affected portions of New York City, considerations will have to be taken as to the cost of hardening the infrastructure in preparation for future events, and what types of remediation and preventative actions will be necessary in dealing with the resultant public health issues. The flooding that occurred in the low-lying areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island brought ashore water contaminated with heavy metals and disease, which have inundated houses and apartment buildings. Any related policies should then be subject to a set of guidelines which would bring about the most resilient engineering changes at the most economically effective cost.

Tokyo, Miami, Mumbai and many more “mega-cities” currently exist below sea level. With its unique status as one of the wealthiest and most politically powerful cities in the world, New York is perfectly situated to act as a template for other coastal cities in regards to future storm preparation policy implementation.