New York City Might Buy Out Flood-Prone Buildings in Queens

Managed retreat comes a little further inland

Kissena Park
Flooding in Kissena Park, New York.
Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The concept of managed retreat is something that’s spent a lot of time in the spotlight in recent years. In short, it finds state and municipal governments working to relocate residents from areas that are especially prone to flooding — including coastal destinations in Long Island and Martha’s Vineyard. The thinking behind it is, essentially, that it’s less expensive to relocate people than to deal with flood recovery expenses — and with climate change upping the risk of flooding in the future, it’s an understandable decision.

Now, New York City is exploring a variation on this line of thinking. Yes, it would also involve relocating the residents of an area prone to flooding, but in this case, the area isn’t on the coast. Instead, it’s a Queens neighborhood around Kissena Park where flooding during Hurricane Ida killed multiple residents.

As Gothamist’s David Brand reports, the city’s government is considering buying the homes of residents of flood-prone neighborhoods like the aforementioned Queens one and The Hole. Rohit Aggarwala, the head of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, told Gothamist that “we really are thinking about getting the city into that field for the very first time.”

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This isn’t the only option on the table for Kissena Park. Brand notes that the city is also working on plans to expand the sewer system and could create a new lake to mitigate flooding. Still, the combination of decades of building on wetlands with the acceleration of climate change has led to a challenging status quo for governments and residents of affected areas alike.

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