Even before Hurricane Sandy, current Loeb Thaddeus Pawlowski and his team at the New York Department of City Planning detected a gap in the city’s Hazard Mitigation plan, notably information about how to retrofit existing buildings to higher flood elevations. They set about rectifying the problem by forging a partnership with the Office of Emergency Management, Department of Buildings and AIA. The result is a new report, Retrofitting Buildings for Flood Risk, which represents a significant step toward preparing the city for climate change.
The Hazard Mitigation plan is an important policy and planning tool for building a city's resilience and sustainability, but to date it’s been poorly utilized and it lacked information. FEMA has good technical data on elevating houses on large lots, but there was no reliable information from any source about how to repair and rebuild urban buildings in flood zones.
The new report is a resource for home and property owners living in the NYC floodplain to understand both the new regulatory landscape and what it means to adapt buildings to flood resilience. It provides step-by-step guidance on how to approach adaptation projects.
It is also the most detailed analysis to date of the interaction of all relevant federal, state and city regulations. It clearly shows an array of retrofit solutions for a range of building types–from bungalow to multi-family buildings with elevators and mixed-use buildings–to inform decisions by building professionals.
Last, the report is an important step toward understanding the applicability of the FEMA and National Flood Insurance Program regulations to the NYC building stock. The report clearly shows the limitations of existing federal regulations for the city’s dense buildings and provides specific suggestions for alternative solutions that FEMA should explore.