(Bloomberg) -- Hurricane Sandy swept through New York City in October 2012 leading to 43 deaths and an estimated $19 billion in damages. The fallout devastated city residents as their homes, along with the city’s public transit system, were submerged in water. 

A decade later, the city is still rebuilding after the superstorm as it confronts the threat of extreme weather. New York needs to step up its efforts and spend the $15 billion in federal grants that it received for recovery efforts, a new report by New York City Comptroller Brad Lander released on Thursday said. As of June 2022, it has only used 73% of those funds, the report said.

“The climate crisis is moving far faster than we are,” Lander said in an emailed statement. “Superstorm Sandy was a wake-up call for the devastating risks that climate change poses to our city – but from the trudging pace of too many resiliency projects, it seems like we’re still asleep. Without significant improvements to infrastructure design and delivery, New York City will fail to get ready in time for the next storm.”  

In 2021, the nation’s largest city was not prepared and was yet again temporarily paralyzed by a storm that first pummeled distant New Orleans. Hurricane Ida, which halted the city’s transit system and killed more than 40 people in the city and surrounding suburbs, conjured a future constrained by recurrent disasters. 

Read more: NYC Confronts New Normal for Weather After Drenching From Ida

While New York is slated to receive $188 million new federal money for Hurricane Ida recovery and over $1 billion via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the report said, more needs to be done and fast. 

Billions of Dollars at Risk

According to the report, dangerous storms will put about $242 billion of property at risk of coastal flooding by the 2050s. But neither Sandy nor rising tides scared real estate developers or homebuyers away from the waterfront. In fact, since 2012, real estate market rate values in the 100-year floodplain, areas in the city where there is a 1% chance of flooding in any given year, have increased to over $176 billion from $122 billion. 

Tax lots, parcels of land created by municipalities to assess properties and track tax collections, in New York’s current 100-year floodplain are projected to generate $2 billion in annual property taxes and with the floodplain rapidly expanding, more tax lots will be at risk. Frequent storms and floods will threaten $3.1 billion in annual projected property tax revenues by 2050s, according to Lander’s report.  

The city’s public housing, 17% of which is in the 100-year floodplain, will be hit the hardest, the report said. And that number is projected to grow to 26% by the mid-century.

Additionally, significant essential infrastructure systems to the city is in the floodplain: 79% of transportation and utility land uses, 67% of open space and outdoor recreation areas and 46% of the city’s industrial and manufacturing spaces. 

The report also highlights the city’s need for a sustainable funding source to invest in projects that will better prepare New York for future storms. The proposed Clean Air, Clean Water and Green Jobs Bond Act, which would authorize $4.2 billion for environmental and resiliency efforts, is a start, the report said. The bill is on the ballot in the November 2022 New York general election. 

Read more: New Yorkers to Vote on $4.2 Billion Environmental Bond

As New York City works to improve its infrastructure, the report said the estimated completion dates for some of the coastal resiliency projects are as far out as 2030. So far, the city has only spent 13.3% of the $1.9 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency budget. 

The 10-year anniversary is an “important reminder to take stock of our slow progress on resiliency infrastructure,” the report said, and time “to make the best possible use of new federal funds.”

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