Fred Chong Rutherford
3 min readSep 2, 2021
This screenshot from a video showing subway flooding was from July 8, 2021, almost 2 months before a more catastrophic wave of flooding hit NYC on September 1, 2021. Read more here:

NY State government and NYC government have had 9 years since Hurricane Sandy to prepare New York City for flooding. Last night showed a complete failure of our state and local government to prepare. You can’t stop the rain. But you can build infrastructure to deal with flooding.

There’s things that NYC Mayor Bill de Blassio could do BEFORE he leaves office, this month, to help get us better prepared for the next storm — and there’s a possibility the next ‘historic’ weather event could be in a few weeks.

Here’s one thing we could do … right now, the MTA doesn’t clear storm drains in the subways. We also stack garbage on sidewalks, which sometimes block storm drains on the roads.

Governor Kathy Hochul should direct the MTA to immediately clean subway storm drains as standard work. In addition, NYC Sanitation should put out large trash containers on the sidewalks to encourage people to no longer stack garbage on the sidewalk. NYC Sanitation should also be directed to clear storm drains en route on the roads; having the garbage in containers would make it easier for NYC Sanitation and other work crews to clear storm drains.

The city of New York also has resources that could start planting grass, trees, and more, starting right now — and in general, grass, trees and other plantlife help mitigate flooding. We could be ripping up streets, NOW, to do this.

Longer term, in areas like Queens — where a 2 year old baby and her parents died last night — we need to redo the storm drain infrastructure itself and expand it. You can plan for this starting today.

Also longer term, the MTA has a $10 billion grant for NYC subway flood preparedness, and only $5 billion of that was spent under Cuomo. The focus of former Governor Cuomo was on building things like the Occulus and new, shining subway stations. Meanwhile, last night, some subway stations in low-income areas of NYC had their walls ripped apart by flooding. Governor Kathy Hochul should demand the MTA have a plan within the next week about spending that $5…