Theses Master's

Moving Forward by Retreating: Lessons Learned From the Post-sandy Buyouts on the East Shore of Staten Island for Future Flood Resilience Strategies

Rhodes, Wesley Thomas

Following Superstorm Sandy, the City and the State of New York initiated two separate, federally funded, recovery programs for residents along the East Shore of Staten Island. New York State offered a retreat style buyout program for three small neighborhoods which would require the purchased land to remain open space in perpetuity. The City’s program, conversely, rehabilitates, reconstructs, or acquires properties with the goal of building back more resilient housing. This thesis aims to understand why both approaches were being offered to residents along the East Shore and what impact this might have on the community’s resilience to future flood events. Through an examination of the history of the East Shore, as well as the post-Sandy planning processes and recovery programs I uncovered a complex set of interactions between various levels of government and between residents and government. Through archival research and interviews I attempt to unpack this complex web of interactions. Additionally, through a site visit I examine what this complicated recovery process has meant for the character of the three neighborhoods targeted for buyout and the choices the city now faces about the area’s future. In the conclusion section I set out potential recommendations for the future resiliency of New York City, as well as best practices for future post-disaster recovery efforts in New York and other cities, especially as it relates to the pursuit of retreat as a climate adaptation strategy.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Bou Akar, Hiba
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 29, 2018