FMCSA issued an Eastern Regional Emergency Declaration to temporarily lift hours-of-service requirements and other regulations to assist interstate motor carrier drivers and operators providing direct emergency relief, including generators and fuel. The Federal Railroad Administration FRA worked directly with Amtrak and freight rail carriers in the Northeast Corridor as they assessed damage, facilitated recovery efforts and planned to resume service. Four of the six tunnels that carry Amtrak trains under the East and Hudson Rivers were left flooded by Sandy- all four were reopened by November 9.
The Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration PHMSA helped speed the transport of hazardous materials, including much-needed fuel, to and from hurricane disaster areas with fast tracked emergency special permits.
Hurricane Sandy: DOT Year in Review | US Department of Transportation
FTA also worked expediently to develop a new emergency relief program to facilitate federal assistance for public transportation systems. In New York, the Montague tunnel carries 65, customers each weekday on the R train and was flooded with more than 27 million gallons of salt water. In New York, storm drains were elevated to reduce the volume of water that pours into stations below street level, higher capacity water pumps and back-up sources of power for lighting, flood pumps and other necessities were installed.
The hardest hit transit agencies in New York and New Jersey will use this funding to upsize pumps and raise interlocking signals in flood prone areas and develop infrastructure to allow additional drainage.
Sandy knocked out electricity for more than 8. This was accomplished without any reported losses of a human life. Research animals were not so lucky. In normal times, those living on upper floors consider themselves lucky to enjoy the views. But when the electricity went out in these buildings, the elevators stopped working, and many of those same people—physically unable to descend the stairways—were trapped for days and even weeks on end.
Nastaran Mohit is a volunteer for Occupy Sandy, a nonprofit group coordinating relief efforts to victims of the hurricane. The Rockaways is a densely populated peninsula fronting the Atlantic Ocean that was completely inundated with floodwater. It is home to four major public housing projects as well as a number of nursing homes and halfway houses.
In the week after the storm, Mohit began sending teams to search out and help residents of these high-rises. The hallways were pitch black. Many apartments were without functioning plumbing.
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People were living in their own feces. Despite the ongoing lack of power, cleanup must proceed; here, a New York City housing worker cleans and disinfects a Red Hook home, 13 November The storm knocked out power to more than 8 million people, and prolonged loss of electricity and running water posed a significant problem for many people. Mohit says many elderly residents suffered from chronic medical conditions—arthritis, high blood pressure, and diabetes. They had to ride it out until we could send runners out to get the proper meds. Two months after the storm, thousands of residents in the Rockaways high-rises were still without functioning elevators.
Governmental and private agencies are now providing aid, but volunteers like Mohit continue to fill what they see as a gaping void in the disaster response system. Every storm in which power is lost for an extended period of time seems to result in tragedies related to carbon monoxide CO poisoning. People resort to using gas stoves or ranges to heat their dwellings and portable gas generators to provide homes with electricity.
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The situation was exaggerated after Sandy, given the sheer number of gas generators purchased and the threat to safety that presented. But not everyone in the affected area knew how to properly use a generator, Buckley says; some ran them in their garages and inside their homes, creating hazardous CO levels.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC had, as of November 6, collected reports of CO exposure from poison control centers—a figure that included 4 deaths—and suspected there might be more. Outdoor air quality becomes a concern after flooding events when sediment deposited by floodwaters on city streets and sidewalks dries and is kicked up by vehicles and foot traffic. Damaged buildings are demolished, and debris is stacked on sidewalks, trucked away, and sometimes burned. These monitors showed no overall increase in ambient air pollution after Sandy, but they were not located near areas where debris was being gathered for removal to landfills.
Hurricane Sandy swept hazardous chemical containers from homes and businesses and deposited them into nearby marshland. In this undated photo, a worker with the EPA prepares some of these orphaned household chemicals for disposal. A child plays with donated toys while her family looks through other donated goods in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York, 4 November Water pollution was a major health concern after Hurricane Sandy.
Raw sewage spilled into homes in Baldwin and East Rockaway, New York, when a sewage plant flooded and could not handle the volume. During wet weather, the plant treats up to million gallons of sewage per day. Based on that figure, Lipoti estimates that as much as 2.
The Long Road to Recovery: Environmental Health Impacts of Hurricane Sandy
In the days after the storm, the state of New Jersey issued advisories for public recreational waters impacted by sewage. Shellfish waters were closed statewide. Boil-water advisories were issued for affected water supply systems. All recreational and boil-water advisories have since been rescinded, and most shellfish waters have reopened.
FEMA assigned the pumping out of these structures to the U. Hurricane Sandy is estimated to have damaged more than , homes, many of which have been gutted to remove water-damaged building components. This situation, anguishing as it is to homeowners, presents a unique opportunity to upgrade the energy efficiency of these buildings.
Improving energy efficiency will not only reduce energy consumption but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions involved in producing that energy. Because of uncertainties regarding new FEMA regulations for flood insurance, many homeowners have yet to begin reconstruction of damaged or destroyed houses. However building and insulation contractors are reporting that of those who have begun work, many are choosing to add energy-efficient components.
Pierciey says the most popular improvements are closed-cell foam insulation sprayed into wall cavities and under floors, and high-efficiency gas furnaces to replace older furnaces destroyed by floodwaters.
According to the U. Department of Energy, closed cell foam has a higher insulating value R-value per inch than fiberglass,30 and contractors claim that, properly installed, it is more effective at blocking air flow. Furthermore, it has a perm rating of 0. Of the long-term health threats posed by Sandy, the most significant is mold growth in homes that were not properly remediated after flooding.
Indoor exposure to mold has been linked to upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people, and with exacerbation of symptoms in people with asthma. Wood framing must then be scrubbed free of mold with a detergent solution and dried using dehumidifiers and blowers before reconstruction begins. Nonporous surfaces affected by floodwater containing sewage can be cleaned with a dilute bleach solution, but Bill Sothern, a certified industrial hygienist with the firm Microecologies, says bleach should not be used on wood.
Following Sandy, an army of contractors and volunteers descended on the flood zones to offer their services in demolition and mold remediation. Interviews with volunteer groups and contractors for this article suggest that most workers were instructed to use respirators when working in these spaces. However, Sothern observed that many workers chose not to follow this recommendation.
More significantly, he says, not all mold was removed in these remediation efforts, which could present problems down the road. Similarly, mold growth on the top and bottom sides of subflooring and on the underlying structural floor joists is a ubiquitous problem. Removing structural components is very expensive, not to mention impractical to perform in the cold of a Northeast winter, and thus has not been common practice for homes flooded by Sandy, according to Sothern.
Even if the mold is cleaned from the accessible surfaces, that means some moldy material is bound to remain. The impact of these scenarios on airborne mold levels is not well understood, so Sothern—who is also a doctoral candidate at the City University of New York School of Public Health—and a team at the university have designed a study to examine these associations. As of this writing, the study has yet to be funded. They have been sampling mold levels in storm-damaged houses before, during, and after remediation to determine the effectiveness of cleanup procedures.
Given the varying salinity of floodwaters that impacted homes—salt, brackish, and fresh—the team is eager to see what different types of mold appear as a result. What responsibilities do I have when using this report? Dates and time periods associated with this report. Geographical information about where this report originated or about its content. You Are Here: home unt libraries government documents department this report. Description Report regarding congressional efforts to structure federal actions and programs so they provide incentives to reduce flood risk without unduly infringing on private property rights or usurping local decision making.
Physical Description 12 pages. Who People and organizations associated with either the creation of this report or its content. Author Carter, Nicole T. Specialist in Natural Resources Policy. Publisher Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service. Place of Publication: Washington D. About Browse this Partner. What Descriptive information to help identify this report. Language English. Item Type Report.