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'Above normal' hurricane season coming. Is New York ready for another Sandy?

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Though experts say the likelihood of another Sandy-like storm hitting New York is minuscule, on Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there was a 70 percent chance this year’s Atlantic hurricane season would be “above normal,” predicting about six to nine hurricane-grade storms with sustained winds topping 74 mph. More ominously, the agency also said three to five of these storms could develop into major hurricanes, with winds of 111 mph or higher churning up the Atlantic Ocean and potentially threatening US coastal communities.

“I think if we had another Sandy this summer, I think there’s no question that the city would be better prepared,” says David Reiss, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who teaches the impact of climate change on cities. “But I don't think they've made massive changes to how we do things – they have just dealt with it once, and know what the challenges are, and can be better able to implement and execute [emergency procedures.]”

In May, the city released its “After-Action” report, an extensive review of how well city agencies were able to implement such procedures, offering suggestions for improvements. Among these were improving the city’s 311 and 911 services, expediting the purchase of public safety equipment, and developing more comprehensive power backups for street lights and city residences. But most of these recommendations are simply that: recommendations.

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