Southern Brooklyn

Deadline Looms For Public Comment On City’s Disaster Mitigation Plan – Here’s How To Weigh In

Manhattan Beach on October 29, 2012, just a few hours before the whole area was completely flooded.

Every five years, New York City publishes a set of actions and plans in the case of a huge disaster like Superstorm Sandy. It’s kind of like a home’s emergency escape plan, a what-if scenario. For New York City, the plan, officially called a Hazard Mitigation Plan, is now being reviewed and the public has a chance to leave their thoughts and feedback on the draft.

The deadline for public comment ends on January 16. Keep reading to find out how to leave feedback from your own experiences during Superstorm Sandy.

The Brooklyn Recovery Fund released a guide on how to navigate the city’s draft. The last time the plan was under review, most probably wouldn’t have even heard of it. But with Superstorm Sandy barely in the rearview mirror, many New Yorkers have become something of emergency situation experts.

But they may not be able to understand the trade language of the bureaucrat used in the plan. In the guide, the fund’s members explain, “Because so many of us have little or no background in emergency management or disaster mitigation and recovery, reading the draft plan and providing comments may be confusing and frustrating” and “these documents are created by and for agencies and government entities who speak a common language and have produced and read these kinds of documents many times before.”

The mitigation plan that was used during Superstorm Sandy instructed the city to do things like shut down the transportation system and issue a mandatory evacuation for people in Flood Zone A. If reading this makes you grumble some kind of criticism, save it for the  feedback section.

As it is pointed out in the document, in order to receive aid from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the city must have an approved mitigation plan.

Along with providing step-by-step instructions on how to read the city’s plan, the Brooklyn Recovery Fund also slips in a few questions to the reader, nudging Brooklynites to analyze the city’s new plan.

“It is important that we look for, read and understand the strategies that are being proposed in this document. Are they clear? Are they sufficient? Is it reflective of strategies that have emerged through community and other planning processes that have been ongoing?” the document prompts.

The mitigation plan is broken down into five sections. The first three chapters provide a context for the reader and in the fourth section the new plans are presented. As the Brooklyn Fund’s document suggests, it’s important to know the context before reading the new plans and leaving comments. After reading through all of the sections people can then go to the comment’s section and type out their thoughts in the text box, which, the Brooklyn Fund writes, “is deceptively small, but you actually have unlimited space to comment.”

If someone doesn’t have internet or is on strike against the cyber world, they can go to the Department of City Planning’s Brooklyn office on 16 Court Street, 7th floor.


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