College Of Staten Island Holds Forum On Borough's Sandy Recovery
Nearly five months after Hurricane Sandy pounded the borough, the College of Staten Island held a public forum Friday on how the island can recover from the storm, the first of what is expected to be many. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
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Staten Island was battered and bruised by Hurricane Sandy. On Friday, the borough's brain trust gathered at the College of Staten Island to talk about how to move on from the storm that devastated so many.
"The real goal today as New Yorkers is to have a serious conversation about what that we want the future of our city, and especially here on Staten Island, what do we want the future of Staten Island to look like," said Dr. William Fritz of the College of Staten Island.
To that end, Fritz invited a team of scientists, social scientists and island officials to discuss all aspects of the storm's impact.
One discussion focused on the lessons to be learned from places like the Netherlands and New Orleans, which both suffered significant storm surges.
"We want to learn to live with water," said Dr. Ron Shiffman of the Pratt Institute. "How do we really absorb water so it's not going into our sewer systems, so that it's not flooding, and the more that we create sponges out of our environment around us, it becomes far more fruitful."
That's an idea that CSI geologist Alan Benimoff agrees with. He's studied the island's coastline and the potential threat of storm surges for years, and said development in former marsh lands needs to be halted.
"We have to return these areas to wetlands so they protect the rest of Staten Island," Benimoff said. "We're going to get future hurricanes. There's no question about it. We got them in the past, and we're going to get them in the future."
Panelists also debated why residents didn't leave their homes when asked to evacuate, as well as how to spend Hurricane Sandy relief aid.
"The federal government, the city government, the state government. Lots of people at the table," said Richard Flanagan of the College of Staten Island "I think it's quite confusing for citizens on Staten Island, particularly the most vulnerable, people who got wiped out."
Officials at the college said this isn't the last time they'll publicly discuss Hurricane Sandy and its impact. They said it's a conversation that will likely last for several years.