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January 25, 2021
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News + Views

NYC After Sandy

By Lisa M. Collins

Hurricane Sandy exposed a lot of weaknesses in New York City’s infrastructure, weaknesses that need to be addressed, especially if we are going to face more big storms with high winds and flooding.

The city’s sewage system, terribly old and flawed, is among the top concerns. During Sandy, the fifth-largest sewage system in the country, in Newark, N.J., spilled four billion gallons of raw sewage into the water system that drains into New York Harbor not far from the Statue of Liberty. Because power went down, raw sewage continued to drain out of the Passaic Valley Sewage Commission plant for weeks after the storm.

In New York City, the old sewage system includes wooden underground pipes and sewage overflows into waterways including the Gowanus Canal every time there is a considerable rain.

“If these storms continue to happen, we have to do something,” said Mary Mears, spokesperson for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s New York regional office. “Waste-water treatment plants get inundated and flooded and cease to function. How often is this going to happen to us? This is me speaking as a person. I can’t even contemplate the amount of money that it would take to upgrade the system.”

“This storm revealed just how aging our infrastructure really is. We are practically third word here in the biggest city in the country,” Mears said.

Building more effective rain and sewage drainage systems, and enhancing wetlands-type of water drainage and cleaning systems along waterfront areas are just two things the city is looking at in the wake of Sandy. Some, like City Councilman Brad Lander, are suggesting that the city should question any development along the waterfront, though such development is a hallmark of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s administration.

To discuss these issues and more, state Sen. Daniel Squadron is holding a “community conversation” for people who want to get more involved, get help or learn about what the city is doing in the wake of the storm.

The meeting will bring together various agencies, utility representatives and other resources to help New Yorkers who want to get involved post-Sandy.

Click on New York After Sandy to learn more.

Disaster assistance deadlines are approaching, and the meeting aims to help those who still need it.

A flyer and list of confirmed organizations is available here and will be continually updated ahead of the event.

The public can RSVP at or by calling 212-298-5565.


WHEN/WHERE: Sunday, December 9, 2012

                         Brooklyn: 11AM-2PM, Galapagos Art Space, 16 Main St (DUMBO)

                         Manhattan: 3PM-6PM, Murry Bergtraum HS, 411 Pearl St





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