To better understand the hazards presented in the NYC Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP), it’s important to understand New York City’s environment as context. The following section will review themes and topics essential to understanding the risks from natural hazards, the city’s vulnerabilities to those risks, and strategies and capabilities to mitigate those risks. New York City, the most populous city in the United States, is a complex and dynamic urban center that lies at the heart of the nation’s largest metropolitan area. Its status as a global city coupled with the vast diversity of its people, neighborhoods, buildings, and landscapes, underscores the critical importance of comprehensive planning and risk mitigation measures. Numerous factors contribute to the heightened risk profile of the city, including:
- The city’s coastline is approximately 520 miles long, bordering an ocean, rivers, bays, tidal straits, inlets, and a harbor. People and areas along low-lying portions of this enormous waterfront are vulnerable to coastal storms, erosion, and different types of flooding – vulnerability that will only be exacerbated by rising sea levels in the future.
- New York City covers approximately 305 square miles. Across the five boroughs, variations in population density and neighborhood characteristics expose areas to different risks.
- New York City is the center of a metropolitan region of more than 23 million people, who are heavily dependent on complex, interdependent regional systems for energy, telecommunications, transportation, water, and wastewater treatment. Making sure that aging infrastructure receives the necessary, ongoing, and extensive maintenance it needs is critical.
- New York City is home to 8.8 million residents. New York City’s population has grown 7.7 percent since 2010, and is expected to increase in the coming decades, putting even greater numbers of people at future risk should natural on non-natural hazard events threaten New York.
- With approximately one million buildings, the size of New York City’s building stock is immense. New York’s real estate represents an enormous financial asset; however, the many older buildings that are not built according to newer, stricter Construction Code standards are at greater risk from hazards associated with high winds, high heat, winter weather, earthquakes, and floods.
- New York City’s population includes seniors, people with disabilities, people with chronic health conditions, those who are socially isolated, those living in poverty, and people with limited English proficiency. These populations may be at higher risks for certain types of hazards. As New York’s population grows in the future, the number of vulnerable New Yorkers is also likely to grow.