There may have been a lot of pomp and circumstance from our local politicians as we began our weekends in anticipation of Hurricane Irene. Whether or not it was necessary for so many city dwellers to evacuate their homes and hospital beds, board up storefronts, and shut down mass transit, I think this past weekend proved to be a successful “dry run” of what might happen if there were to be a larger event in the city.
In general, people listened to the issued warnings. Most New Yorkers learned about the NYC Hurricane Evacuation Zone map. I’m sure downloads about Go Bags and advice about what to do in the event of a catastrophe increased exponentially (at least I did my part in helping the statistics). Although the city itself was left relatively unscathed, save for flooded basements and water and power outages in some areas, I think people became much more aware of the precarious nature of New York Harbor and low-lying areas in the five boroughs.
Last week I attended the inaugural AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction meeting at the Center for Architecture (See “New Committee Promotes Design for Risk and Reconstruction,” by Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, and Illya Azaroff, AIA in this issue). The discussion centered on how the design community can better serve as a vehicle for information- and knowledge-sharing to promote resilience in the face of natural and manmade disasters. This meeting couldn’t have come at a better time. Now that the earthquake has subsided and the tides have receded, and as these next couple of weeks bring focus on the anniversaries of Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, this committee is poised to help identify and clarify how design professionals can positively affect preparation, mitigation, response, and rebuilding.