Storm Surge Impact to Subterranean Areas by Hurricane Sandy, and Lessons for Japan’s Storm Surge Countermeasures
Research Institute for Disaster Mitigation and Environmental Studies
NPO CeMI (Crisis and Environment Management Policy Institute)
505 Royal Wakaba, 1-22 Wakaba, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo 160-0011, Japan
Hurricane Sandy caused critical damage to subterranean infrastructure in New York and also claimed 285 human lives across the Eastern Seaboard. The storm surge impact easily overwhelmed existing pumping systems, devastating power supply and paralyzing transport. Despite extensive preparations and pre-storm public information efforts, inundation and underground flooding caused causalities. The size of the disaster, sheer scope of damage and multifaceted response spanning the onset through to the recovery phase provides useful lessons for Japan, given its vulnerability to similar storm surges and flooding disasters, such as the Ise Bay Typhoon of 1959. Given this, a delegation composed of members of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and Researchers from Japan’s Universities and Academic Societies working in disaster prevention conducted two surveys in 2013 and 2014. This involved hearing from emergency management officers in New York, Washington D.C and coastal communities about their experiences evacuating vulnerable residents and protecting critical infrastructure. The author of this paper was a member of both delegations. Based on fieldwork from these joint surveys and other materials, this paper outlines the scope of the damage that a storm of Sandy’s size was capable of inflicting, and looks at lessons applicable to Japan for preventing similar damage to infrastructure and human life in future storm surge events, and discusses how New York is attempting to become a more resilient city in preparation for the next flooding or storm surge disaster.
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