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Perspective

On Long Island, Failure to Absorb Sandy’s Lessons

Six years after Sandy hit New York, waterfront development in the region continues with scant attention to cohesive storm-mitigation strategy.
The remains of a house are cleared in the Rockaways area of New York in November 2012.
The remains of a house are cleared in the Rockaways area of New York in November 2012.Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Six years ago Monday, Hurricane Sandy began gathering in the Caribbean Sea. Although it was classified as a post-tropical cyclone by the time it hit New York on October 29, it killed 43 people in the state, wiping out homes, and causing billions of dollars in damage. Despite repeated warnings from scientists and planners that "the next big one" is coming, the appeal of waterfront living still continues to lure buyers, investors, and builders across the New York metro region.

One of the parts of New York that was hardest hit, Long Island, is a patchwork of municipalities that control the region’s land usage with little regard given to the adoption of a collective and cohesive approach to growth. Between the filling-in of the marshes and wetlands that absorbed surge and wave action, to the construction of multi-million-dollar projects on unsteady sands, Long Islanders have long witnessed the economics of the real estate industry trump the warnings by urban planners and scientists.