How do we rebuild our beloved city? Do we replace existing structures that have proven not to withstand the damages of Hurricane Sandy? In certain areas, is it worth it to rebuild at all? These are issues that the city, state and federal governments need to address.
Basements and first floors of homes were flooded where furnaces, water heaters and electrical panels are located in most homes. Do we replace them in our basements and take a chance that a few years down the line they may be destroyed by another hurricane? Can we afford as a nation to spend $42 billion every time there is a hurricane? While I pray that we never experience such disasters in our lifetime, we should act to prevent the negative effects.
Moving forward, electrical panels, furnaces and water heaters should be moved to a utility room on higher floors in flood prone areas. The Department of City Planning may exclude the square footage of the utility room from being counted towards the floor area ratio to compensate for the loss of square footage. Tank-less water heaters should be used to eliminate the possibility of leakage. The federal government should assist in funding these projects by offering a special income tax deduction to the homeowners.
The state should do its part as well. Mandate installation of flood-proof generators in nursing homes, senior residences and rehabilitation centers in flood-prone areas. A partial rebate for having the installation done would be useful. Gas stations should be mandated to have another source of power. It can be a generator or even solar power (probably ideal). Offer a rebate for such work.
The blizzard of 1888 brought the Northeast to a standstill, paralyzing transportation and communication. We learned from this and made telephone wires go underground and constructed the first American underground rail in Boston. We are now at a similar crossroad — we must resolve to rebuild not the homes of the past but those of the future. Let’s move forward.