NYC mayoral Eric Adams outlines plan to protect city from future flooding - New York Daily News
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Mayoral candidate Eric Adams outlines plan to gird NYC for future flooding

After Hurricane Ida’s historic lashing of New York City this month delivered a wake-up call on the perils of global warming, the overwhelming favorite in the city’s mayoral race, Eric Adams, poured new detail Friday into his plan to improve the city’s climate-change resiliency.

Adams, the Democratic candidate in the November election, released an urgent storm-safety blueprint that called for unified ceiling-height requirements for basement apartments, a flood of funding for public-housing infrastructure and the appointment of a climate-resiliency czar at the City Planning Commission.

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Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams
Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams (Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

As he announced his proposals outside the Haber Houses on Coney Island, Adams leaned into a decidedly old-school point in his plan: He suggested blaring emergency sirens to draw attention to coming storms.

“As ironic as it seems, I think we need to revert to the siren system,” Adams told reporters outside the public housing complex. “We have been inundated with notifications on our phones. Oftentimes we ignore that.”

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Cars are stranded by high water Thursday, Sept 2, on the Major Deegan Expressway in Bronx borough of New York as high water left behind by Hurricane Ida still stands on the highway hours later.
Cars are stranded by high water Thursday, Sept 2, on the Major Deegan Expressway in Bronx borough of New York as high water left behind by Hurricane Ida still stands on the highway hours later. (Craig Ruttle/AP)

Though Adams carried a 17-point plan to make New York City greener during the bruising Democratic primary, it offered few specifics on how to bolster the city’s storm-readiness.

The Brooklyn borough president rarely talked about climate change, focusing relentlessly on gun violence as he climbed to victory. His rival Kathryn Garcia was endorsed by the New York League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group.

But in the aftermath of Ida, Adams has pivoted.

“Mother Nature’s not going to wait on us for a 20-year plan,” Adams said Friday. “We never expected to see the Brooklyn Bridge flood. We never expected to see people dying in their basements. We have to adjust with the horrific state we’ve left our planet in.”

The city drew criticism for its flatfooted response to the storm’s remnants, which deluged the five boroughs with unprecedented ferocity on Sept. 1, turning subways into subterranean rivers and basement homes into death traps.

An MTA bus and other cars were trapped in floodwater on Queens Boulevard in Queens, New York after Storm Ida on Thursday, September 2, 2021.
An MTA bus and other cars were trapped in floodwater on Queens Boulevard in Queens, New York after Storm Ida on Thursday, September 2, 2021. (Theodore Parisienne/for New York Daily News)

More than a dozen New Yorkers died, most in basement apartments. President Biden visited Queens to survey the damage. And public officials signaled urgency to prevent future repeats.

Gov. Hochul said the subway should be sealed off in challenging storms, and Mayor de Blasio promised evacuations and travel bans.

Curtis Sliwa, the long-shot GOP nominee for mayor, focused on clearing sewers and catch drains, saying that maintenance is sorely lacking. The stunt-prone Republican called on Hochul and de Blasio to visit the sewer.

Adams’ short-term proposals include a public education campaign focused on storm perils, a partnership with social media companies to create warning systems and an effort to uncork federal aid. He also said the city should institute a multilevel emergency system that will activate escalating responses.

Workers construct temporary flood barriers near the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan, New York on Sunday, August 2, 2020.
Workers construct temporary flood barriers near the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan, New York on Sunday, August 2, 2020. (Gardiner Anderson/for New York Daily News)

The candidate has said he plans to visit the Netherlands to see how the country is handling the changing climate. Much of that country is below sea level.

Increasingly destructive storms appear to be among the most pressing challenges Adams will face if he assumes office, along with the coronavirus pandemic.

Workers construct temporary flood barriers near the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan, New York on Sunday, August 2, 2020.
Workers construct temporary flood barriers near the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan, New York on Sunday, August 2, 2020. (Gardiner Anderson/for New York Daily News)

Discussing reluctance in the local COVID vaccination effort on Friday, the candidate urged a sensitive touch in handling hesitant New Yorkers.

“If a woman is expecting to have a child, and she has real concerns, we have to respect that,” Adams said. “If there’s real religious exemptions, that your religion historically has been against vaccines — you can’t all of a sudden create it now — but if historically that is what you believe, we have to respect that.”

Adams appeared to be creating space between himself and de Blasio on that issue, and others. The mayor has taken an aggressive approach to mandating vaccines and has been at loggerheads with city union leadership over rules around the shots.

People look at cars abandoned on the flooded Major Deegan Expressway following a night of extremely heavy rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida on September 2, in the Bronx borough of New York City.
People look at cars abandoned on the flooded Major Deegan Expressway following a night of extremely heavy rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida on September 2, in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Adams and de Blasio are longtime political allies and generally avoid offering explicit public criticism of one another. But Adams has signaled a markedly different posture toward business from the current administration, and he also seemed to split with de Blasio on his work-from-home policy.

“I believe there’s room to do remote work,” Adams said Friday. “Let’s put our toes in the water, then our foot in the water, and then two feet. And eventually, we’ll get back. But if you can do your job from home, I think this is a good time to figure out how to do that.”

The mayor ordered the city’s entire municipal labor force to return to in-person work this month.

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