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Super Storms of the future and New York City flooding

Angels (dusk) by Greg Parma Smith at MOMA PS!

Angels (dusk) by Greg Parma Smith at MOMA PS!

I just spent a wonderful weekend in New York City where I attended a reading by Garth Greenwell, visited PS1 Museum, and enjoyed a musical recital by faculty at the Manhattan School of Music. Of course I also ate amazing food–Peruvian, Ethiopian, Dominican. New York is the first city I ever experienced when I was a boy, and I end up judging all other cities by it.

After living in NYC for 10 years, I moved on, but of course I keep my eye on the city from a distant. When Super Storm Sandy hit, I was 100 miles away with my dad, who was dying of cancer. While my dad and I had a pretty easy time of it, with the lights on most of the time except for an hour or so and no major flooding, New York City got smashed. Our friends Lila and Terry on 2nd Street on the Lower East Side lived without electricity for days. Tim and Scott on East 10 had no idea that they were in a flood zone. That’s because it had never flooded in their neighborhood in recorded history.

That was a freaky storm, a perfectly perfect storm that horrified meteorologists even as they grew giddy over seeing a weather event that no one had ever seen or imagined before. Well, that’s not true. We had been warned that larger storms are coming. We have been told sea-level rise will be felt first during extreme weather. New York City officials know that they need to act. 

Our own Climate Stew roving reporter, Tony Buffusio from the Bronx, joins us with a special report about the flooding expected in NYC over the next few decades and the threats right now. Have a listen to a Climate Stew special report. (Transcript below)

This is Tony Buffusio in the Bronx. Remember Super Storm Sandy back in 2012? I do and I don’t. I was in Florida with my girlfriend slash fiancee, Tina, so we missed it, then got stuck there and by the time we got home the drama was over. They said Anderson Cooper was in our neighborhood. Still it was a mess. Turns out it is just a preview of what is yet to come.

A new report from the New York City Panel on Climate Change warns of growing climate change threats to NYC. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

A new report from the New York City Panel on Climate Change warns of growing climate change threats to NYC. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

According to the New York City Panel on Climate Change, NY, NY “is expected to see more frequent heat waves and extreme precipitation events.” In fact, it’s been hotter and wetter in NYC since the year 1900. Average temperatures rose by 3.5 degree Fahrenheit and sea levels rose over one foot, about 1.2 inches per decade. Maybe it doesn’t sound like much to you, but scientists and public officials are freaking out.

Ok, so I’m 28 years old, by 2050, when I’m 63, not even retired, sea level rise is projected to between a foot to almost two feet. And there is no escape to Florida where it’s gonna be worse. By 2100 NY Harbor could rise as much as 6 feet. Goodbye Wall Street unless they build a serious wall Yikes! Same holds true for Boston, with the only upside being the Red Socks may get flooded out. Go Yankees.

But forget about the future. We got problems right now. With the current sea level rise when the storms come, they will bash the city with serious flooding. Right now over 400,000 people live in a NYC flood zone, making it the most populous flood zone in the USA, even worse than New Orleans. Sometimes its not so hot being number one.

City planners are talking about mitigation, fancy word for saying ‘Stop for the fossil fuel pollution already! and adaptation, fancy word for saying break out of the sandbags, build flood walls or relocate NYC to the Catskills.

You know i hear about these island nations like Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Maldives and how they are going underwater like a modern day Atlantis sunk because of carbon pollution. But I never imagined that the greatest islands in the world—Manhattan Island Long Island, City Island in the Bronx where you can get some kick butt oysters, are gonna drown. We need to cut out all the carbon polluting crap and like the Netherlands, NYC must protect itself. Mayor Deblasio, you know what we need? A big, strong, powerful dyke to save us all. Mr. Deblasio, build that flood wall.

featured image: Order by Hayley Silverman


Author: Peterson Toscano

Peterson Toscano is a quirky queer Quaker concerned about Climate Change. His website is

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