Is N.Y.C. Ready for the Next Sandy? – The New York Times

[Want to get New York Today by email? Here’s the sign-up.]

It’s Wednesday.

Weather: Dry and sunny, with a high in the low 80s. (A pleasing forecast, considering the recent heat and rain.)

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Aug. 11.

CreditBryan Anselm for The New York Times

Consider Brooklyn on Monday night:

Cars at a standstill, thwarted by floodwater on the Long Island Expressway. Others forced to navigate an intersection in Williamsburg like amphibious vehicles on a Duck tour. Is that Carroll Street? Or is it a river?

Days after dangerously high temperatures revealed the frailty of New York’s power grid, intense thunderstorms overwhelmed parts of the drainage system.

Does New York City have an infrastructure problem?

How much rain fell?

Kennedy Airport in Queens got three and a half inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. The area hadn’t received that much rain on a single July day since 1996.

The downpour dumped three inches of rain on Staten Island, and nearly that much in northwest Brooklyn.

Yet, if it were a contest, the city would have lost to the suburbs: To the north, West Nyack in Rockland County got 3.8 inches; to the east, Syosset in Nassau County was soaked by 3.9 inches.

A few inches of rain can swamp a New York street?

Yes. The amount of rain that falls, and how fast it falls, are important factors.

So is a neighborhood’s ability to get rid of that rain. If a drainage system clogs, a few inches of rain can quickly submerge a street.

That’s what happened in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Borough Park and Gowanus, according to the borough president, Eric Adams. (“The rain couldn’t get to the catch basins,” one of his aides told me.)

[If a rainstorm causes flooding in New York, what would a hurricane bring?]

Rebuild by Design, a nonprofit that focuses on large-scale infrastructure projects, was established in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which struck seven years ago.

“We’re entering a new era where we are going to see storm intensity rising,” said Rebuild’s managing director, Amy Chester.

Ms. Chester missed the storm. She was in India. But she saw images of the flooded Brooklyn streets. “The sewage system,” she said, “was not built for the future we’re about to embark on.”

Is it raining more?

Before Monday’s deluge, New York City had gotten almost 33 inches of rain this year — five inches more than the annual average, according to the Weather Service.

So far this year, there have been 18 flash flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service office that covers New York City and parts of New Jersey, Connecticut, the Hudson Valley and Long Island, according to Melissa Di Spigna, a meteorologist. “A little more active,” she said.

Are we prepared for another big storm?

According to Councilman Justin Brannan: Nope.

“If Superstorm Sandy hit N.Y.C. again tomorrow, would we be any more prepared than we were seven years ago?” asked Mr. Brannan, chairman of the Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts, in a statement. “It is a serious concern. From what I’ve seen, it would be a repeat disaster.”

He added, “We are a city of waterfronts — and of the five boroughs, four of them are islands. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”


CreditMeredith Heuer for The New York Times

The last toll collectors: Cashless tolling technology has reduced traffic and idling, but it’s also replacing the sentries of the country’s roads.

New York City is considering banning the sale of cellphone location data.

Two opposing political parties, fighting for survival, are suing Governor Cuomo.

The bruising fight over New York’s next taxi chief.

An escape room in Manhattan where you can’t escape your privilege.

[Want more news from New York and around the region? Check out our full coverage.]

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

Seventeen cyclists have been killed in the city this year, after vehicle collisions hours apart in Brooklyn and Staten Island. [Gothamist]

More than 100 people who oppose vaccination requirements protested outside an event in the Bronx about the recent legislative session. [Norwood News]

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said a dip in revenue at Grand Central Terminal’s dining concourse was because of its décor and homeless people in the space. [Wall Street Journal]

A decommissioned church in Brooklyn that some people wanted to become a landmark was sold for more than $3 million. [Patch]

The Black History 101 Mobile Museum exhibit is part of the first day of the Out of Doors festival at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. 4 p.m. [Free]

Take an evening hike at Greenbelt Nature Center on Staten Island. Plan to cover about five miles at a brisk pace. 6 p.m. [Free]

Attend a talk about relationships, sexual empowerment, stigma, H.I.V. prevention and treatment options available to women of color at the Housing Works Bookstore in Manhattan. 6:30 p.m. [Free with R.S.V.P.]

— Melissa Guerrero

Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.


CreditGetty Images

The Times’s Nefertari Elshiekh writes:

New Yorkers are used to sharing their city with pigeons and squirrels, but at night, an animal less commonly associated with city life creeps out from under roofs. Nine species of bats call the state home, but less is known about the city’s bat population.

The summer is a great time to spot bats in Central Park, where there is an abundance of insects for them to feed on. During the day, Eastern red bats are easily mistaken for leaves, so you might have seen a bat and not even known it.

“This is a very urban area, and learning about how bats use the city helps us with conservation of bats in general,” said Danielle Gustafson, co-founder of the New York City Bat Group. “As bats lose more and more habitat to development, we need to understand how to manage our developed areas to benefit and coexist with bats.”

On Aug. 2 and Aug. 9, the bat group, in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History, will lead bat walks through Central Park starting at 8 p.m. You may catch a glimpse of a little brown bat, a ginger-furred Eastern red bat or a hoary bat, all commonly spotted in the summer months.

Because bats blend in with the darkness of night, they can be difficult to spot. But participants will use an app to turn their phones into bat locaters.

The app’s detector not only picks up high-frequency bat chirps that would otherwise be inaudible, but also takes them “down to a sound we can hear, which is when we know to look up and see the bat,” said Ms. Gustafson, who has helped lead bat walks for almost 15 years. The app even identifies the kind of bat you’re hearing (each species has a distinct call).

“People love being in the park at night and seeing the bats directly over their head,” Ms. Gustafson said.


Dear Diary:

It was a dismal, rainy day in May, and my mood matched the weather.

When I got on the train home after work, it was packed as usual. It was also wet from all the drenched raincoats, Wellingtons and umbrellas.

As people got off at each stop, the crowd began to thin, and there were eventually some empty seats. I started to sit in one, but pulled back when I saw a puddle that would have soaked my backside.

The man in the seat next to it noticed my predicament. He used the sleeve of his raincoat to wipe the seat dry. He looked up at me and smiled, then returned to highlighting the document on top of the briefcase lying across his lap.

— Erica Wissick

New York Today is published weekdays around 6 a.m. Sign up here to get it by email. You can also find it at

We’re experimenting with the format of New York Today. What would you like to see more (or less) of? Post a comment or email us: