Candidates at a New York City mayoral forum on Thursday began to address the tricky issue of rebuilding homes in flood zones. Their exchange reflected the tensions — now felt from Long Island to New Jersey — between seeking to restore what stood before superstorm Sandy and guarding against future calamities.
A resident of devastated Breezy Point in Queens asked candidates if they supported requiring property owners to raise their buildings — and whether they back Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plan to buy out some homeowners.
Nobody gave terse yes-no responses.
“It’s not going to be a quick answer,” warned former Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., a Democrat, who called for expertise and resources to be pooled into a “larger plan.”
Thompson said questions include: “How do we rebuild to code? Do we put boilers in basements where we’d just seen them flood? Do we put the electrical panels back in the basement? How do we in fact mandate through code what materials need to be used?”
Some parts of the Rockaways some homes didn’t flood because “grades were built up, they built dunes and other things,” he noted.
Publisher Tom Allon, a Republican candidate, said, “We need to feel the fierce urgency of now... We need to get our heads out of the sand, pardon the expression, realize this may be a new normal” and act accordingly.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn cited differences in what neighborhoods may want. “There are some communities like Breezy that do not want to be bought out,” Quinn said. “And we need to respect that voice. But I also want to be clear: There are communities in Staten Island that right now are organizing because they want to be bought out...”