New York mostly ignored warnings about a possible superstorm more than 30 years before Hurricane Sandy according to a series of reports and a state law put in place in the late 70s.
The reports, sent to New York’s politicians, detail how the city should prepare for a storm of historic proportions, one that was eerily familiar to Sandy, reports USA Today.
The decades-old reports detail scenarios that included towering storm surges, massive flooding, swamped subway lines, and widespread power outages. The reports even deemed the Rockaways peninsula as one of the “most at risk” areas in New York.
But the majority of the warnings were largely ignored by New York, including a 1978 law that required the creation of a regularly updated plan on how to restore “vital services” in the wake of a massive storm. The reason? Either the budget was too tight or there was no political willpower to actually create the plan for a storm that may never actually hit.
ABC News notes that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged it’s likely no one believed a massive superstorm would ever actually hit New York. Cuomo added:
“I don’t know that anyone believed. We had never seen a storm like this. So it is very hard to anticipate something that you have never experienced.”
As for how well prepared he thinks New York was for the massive storm? Cuomo replied, “not well enough.” Along with the law in 1978, New York also ignored reports from 2005, 2006, and 2010 that spoke of scenarios should a historic storm ever hit the state. The 2006 Assembly even warned, “It’s not a question of whether a strong hurricane will hit New York Cit. It’s just a question of when.:
In a 2010 task force report to the Legislature, the group concluded:
“The combination of a rising sea level, continuing climate change, and more development in high-risk areas has raised the level of New York’s vulnerability to coast storms … The challenge is real, and sea level rise will progress regardless of New York’s response.”
Unfortunately, New York largely ignored the warnings about an impending superstorm.