As downtown Manhattan prepares to be stormed by masked revelers in celebration of the 42nd anniversary of the New York City Village Halloween Parade, some New Yorkers recall this same weekend three years ago, when Superstorm Sandy battered the boroughs, leaving many homeless and the city with billions of dollars worth of damage. The storm was the second costliest in US history, causing $65 billion in damages, destroying 305,000 NYC housing units and leaving 117 dead. Residents lost entire homes, automobiles, businesses and possessions in the massive flooding that ensued when the storm made landfall on October 29, 2012. Downtown was a washout for weeks, with some subway stations closed for months, as water was removed and damage repaired. As the city heads into daylight savings this weekend, and the temperatures hover in perfect Indian Summer digits, it is strange to imagine those days when the winds battered windows and the rivers rose and overflowed the island.
While many in the city this weekend busy themselves putting finishing touches on elaborate costumes and floats for the parade tonight, some New Yorkers have not forgotten the epic destruction caused by Sandy three years ago, and are busy preparing for the next big hurricane to hit. According to a report published by the Zurich based reinsurance company, Swiss Re, in 2014, the next one that hits will be even more massive, with damage well north of the billions of dollars. Mexico is still breathing a collective sigh of relief that the danger posed from Hurricane Patricia last week was not as brutal as originally predicted. The lessons learned from Katrina and Sandy have taken hold, and more attention is being given to preparedness and fortifying infrastructure against future storms. To that end, Global Green and National Grid held an education event in Far Rockaway on Wednesday, October 21st, to announce their partnership to create climate resilient disaster preparedness hubs for New York area communities impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
The innovative partnership will include installing advanced energy efficiency technologies. Up to five community sites will be upgraded, including the Church of God Christian Academy in Far Rockaway, Queens and the Martin Luther King Center in Long Beach, Long Island. Global Green and National Grid hosted the education event at the Christian Academy with Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder for community leaders, students and families to learn about these important upgrades, and to help families take emergency preparedness steps that will make them safer in the event of future storms.
The resiliency hubs will be centrally located in the heart of the community, and designed to provide emergency light, heat and power indefinitely during a crisis. These resiliency hubs will be upgraded with advanced energy efficient technologies including solar photo-voltaic electric power and electric storage systems, as well as gas and electric efficiency improvements. The upgrades also have the benefit of helping to reduce monthly utility bills—a savings that can be devoted to community programs year-round.
“As we mark the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, our shared goal is to create stronger, more resilient communities,” said Global Green USA President and CEO Les McCabe. “We are thrilled to partner with National Grid. Their $1 million dollar investment will make these projects come to fruition, and we look forward to sharing our vision and progress for creating more climate resilient coastal communities at the upcoming Paris Climate conference.”
“National Grid partnered with key community organizations like the Christian Academy in the aftermath of Sandy to make warm places available for residents in the hard-hit areas,” said National Grid Director for Community and Customer Management Mike Ruiz. “National Grid’s partnership with Global Green extends our commitment to support our local communities, making them stronger and more resilient in advance of the next emergency. Extreme weather is here to stay and we are investing in a resilient 21st century energy system.”
“The Church of God Christian Academy has been providing affordable education and community services on the Rockaway peninsula for twenty-eight years. We are delighted to be chosen to be partnered with Global Green and National Grid,” said Principal Charmaine Jean-Baptiste, Church of God Christian Academy. “The building system technologies they are installing on our site will help to improve the quality of recovery services provided to the community during natural disasters and emergencies. This partnership will reinforce our commitment to serve the Rockaways.”
This initiative was privately shared at a panel on climate resiliency during the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, and serves as the next phase in Global Green’s Solar for Sandy effort that launched in 2013 to help increase resiliency against future storms through the installation of solar systems on community hubs. This effort also supports National Grid’s Connect21 initiative, a blueprint to drive advances in America’s natural gas and electricity infrastructure – creating a more customer-centric, resilient, responsive, efficient and environmentally sound energy network to meet the needs of the 21st century.
Global Green and National Grid considered a number of key priorities to help identify partner facilities that serve the public year-round, and that are committed to providing recovery services following an emergency event for this resiliency initiative. Major criteria included being located in a low-lying, vulnerable area with few resources, where people would instinctively go for help. Technical requirements included quality of roof space for solar technologies and ventilated storage for batteries.
“During Sandy, our families depended on local religious and civic institutions to get the basic services and information they needed. I applaud Global Green USA and National Grid for helping to improve the resiliency of vital community institutions like Church of God Christian Academy. Ensuring they have the resources they need to aid families in our most difficult moments will better prepare Rockaway as a whole as we continue in our recovery,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder.
Global Green USA is dedicated to helping the people, places, and the planet in need through catalytic projects, transformative policy, and cutting-edge research. Global Green USA’s signature programs include greening affordable housing, schools, neighborhoods, and cities as well as rebuilding communities — such as New Orleans and areas of New York and New Jersey — that have suffered from the impacts of climate change, sea level rise, and environmental degradation. Global Green USA is the U.S. affiliate of Green Cross International, which was founded by President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993 to foster a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future. For more information, visitglobalgreen.org and follow us @globalgreen.
National Grid (LSE: NG; NYSE: NGG) is an electricity and natural gas delivery company that connects nearly 7 million customers to vital energy sources through its networks in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the Northeast. National Grid also operates the systems that deliver gas and electricity across Great Britain.
Through its U.S. Connect21 strategy, National Grid is transforming its electricity and natural gas networks to support the 21st century digital economy with smarter, cleaner, and more resilient energy solutions. Connect21 is vital to our communities’ long-term economic and environmental health and aligns with regulatory initiatives in New York (REV: Reforming the Energy Vision) and Massachusetts (Grid Modernization).
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together 190 sitting and former heads of state, more than 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 3,400 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries.
In addition to the Annual Meeting, CGI convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States; and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. This year, CGI also convened CGI Middle East & Africa, which brought together leaders across sectors to take action on pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges.