Carolina Salguero and PortSide NewYork won a White House “Champions of Change award in 2013 for protecting the MARY A. WHALEN from the storm and then offering Sandy recovery services to Red Hook.
The Obama administration was smart and used the award ceremony as a way to interview the honorees in front of an audience of about 120 federal employees working in disaster response, so they could harvest ideas. The senior members of the Federal Disaster Recovery Team followed up by meeting with PortSide staff on the Mary Whalen for over three hours.
During the "Champions of Change" event at the White House, Salguero spoke for PortSide and discussed ideas that the staff had workshopped during many discussions after the storm. More about those and related links below the embedded video.
One PortSide idea Salguero presented was the idea of creating Sandy High Water Mark signs as permanent reminders to encourage the community to make resiliency plans. FEMA adopted this idea, then NYC OEM (now called NYC Emergency Management) adopted the program, and then PortSide requested such a sign for the nearest street to our ship. Interviews from that installation are here.
These signs serve as reminders of local flood risks for folks who experienced Sandy, and educate residents who were too young during the storm to been major actors in preparation and recovery, and inform new residents and businesses.
Dan Goncharoff deserves credit for the idea of the evacuation plan for vehicles and especially commercial vehicles. At that time, NYC’s coastal evacuation messaging focused on people, residents, and did not have messaging that stressed getting the cars out; and there was nothing about the risk of commercial vehicles in the flood zone.
If commercial vehicles are destroyed in a flood, you have crippled businesses, and the economic effect of the storm grows. Since commercial vehicles are not allowed to park on NYC streets overnight, they could be ticketed if they did that overnight to avoid a flood.
Since many waterfront, flood-prone neighborhoods are often zoned industrial or mixed-use; there are many vehicles with commercial plates in those places, and many with no plates at, eg, forklifts and small cranes, and the "hustlers" that move the containers in ports.
We watched the Red Hook Container Terminal spend six months replacing wheels and bearings on all the port hustlters after Sandy. Here's a related pilot app "High Ground NYC" we helped created during a 2016 Pioneer Works hackathon.
More in the video!