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Builders urge city to be prepared for disaster

12:52 pm, November 14, 2012

New York Building Congress is calling for an “immediate examinationˮ of how the city can better prepare natural disaster.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy exposed the city’ is vulnerability to severe weather, noted the Congress.

“Once power, transit and other essential services are fully restored, the city, with the help of the building community, must move quickly to address an equally, if not more, daunting challenge — enhancing preparedness for the next severe weather event,” said the NYBC in an open letter to members.

“Having dealt with two hurricanes, tornadoes, an earthquake and a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ blizzard over a period of two years, the city should prepare now for the next natural disaster.ˮ

Just as New Orleans reinforced its levee system in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and other international cities increased building standards after earthquakes, the Congress said the New York region must face up to the vulnerabilities associated with an aging infrastructure and significant populations living and working in low-lying coastal areas.

NYBC, and its coalition of builders, skilled labor, engineers, architects, developers and urban planners, is urging Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to work with public and private sector leaders to create a plan to better protect and prepare the region’s occupants, businesses and infrastructure from the destructive forces of nature.

Such a plan would:

• Determine lessons learned from recent storms, especially regarding the region’s vulnerabilities, preparedness and response.

• Examine weaknesses in the region’s infrastructure that led to widespread flooding, power failures and a transit shutdown.

• Recommend measures to preserve and protect existing infrastructure systems from future natural disasters.

• Propose enhanced standards for the design and construction of new infrastructure projects to better insulate them from damage under worst-case scenarios.

• Develop a timeframe and initial budget for a range of necessary and recommended upgrades to the region’s infrastructure, and suggest potential mechanisms for financing these improvements using City, State and Federal funding sources.

Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson said, “Ideally, planning would involve experts from the design, construction and real estate industry working side by side with representatives from the City of New York, the States of New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The Building Congress is ready to lend its resources and the vast experience of its member organizations to this essential effort.”

In the short term, contractors and businesses are being urged to lend generators to the recovery effort. Generator requests range from a 2KW handheld unit to 800KW generators.

Also needed are cables and teams to install the generators.

Anyone who can help provide generators and cables should contact Rachel Squire at rsquire@cityhall.nyc.gov.

NYBC is also urging members to volunteer the expertise to restoration, recovery and relief efforts.

Visit www.nycservice.org for ideas on how you can help.

Members can also contribute to the Building Congress and Building Foundation Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund.

Visit www.buildingcongress.com or call 212-481-9230.

The Congress has also created on online chronicle of members whose professional services are helping in the hurricane recovery. To be featured, contact Alanna Draudt at adraudt@buildingcongress.com.

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