Avoid Disaster with Storm Protection Fundamentals

Oct. 21, 2013
Specialized tips for New York City's unique geography.

In an effort to better protect residents from natural disasters, the New York City local government has created disaster preparedness guides for those who work in the commercial buildings industry. With a focus on being proactive rather than reactive, here are two guides that are worth looking into.

Designing for Flood Risk
This report explores key design principles for creating flood resistant buildings in urban areas. New York’s waterfront geography means it is at significant risk for damage from tropical storms, hurricanes, and Nor’easters – making these principles a necessity.

Notable elements include:

  • First floor elevation. It is essential to raise first floor elevation in flood zones. Because buildings need to be functional during non-flood conditions, it is important to do this with care. Leave enough space to accommodate ramps and stairs without giving up visual connectivity.
  • Distance from street line. Typically, buildings that are directly adjacent to public sidewalks better support a more active streetscape. But if you are building in a flood zone, consider setting your building back further from the sidewalk. This will give you more opportunity to reconcile grades and accommodate access elements.
  • Density and diversity. New York’s many different neighborhoods correspond with a variety of building typologies that are subject to various flood zone regulations. Improving the resiliency of New York buildings should coincide with the continued effort in maintaining the vibrancy of each neighborhood.

Preparing Sites for Extreme Weather
Aimed at contractors and construction managers, this guide stresses the importance of creating a pre-storm plan and securing sites so they can withstand high winds and rain.

The department recommends that the plan cover these three major areas:

  • General construction
  • Temporary installations
  • Material and personnel hoists

Designing for Flood Risk can be found on the Department of City Planning website, while Preparing Sites for Extreme Weather can be found on the Department of Buildings website.

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