One year after Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast of the U.S., the Environmental League of Massachusetts called on the two Boston mayoral candidates to have detailed plans on how the city will be better protected against future major weather disasters.
The ELM began an online campaign Thursday with a 20-second video called “Boylston River” and shows a person being washed down a flooded Boylston Street.
“This is the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy hitting New York City and devastating it,” said George Bachrach, president of ELM. “One of the related questions we have to ask is, ‘Is Boston any better prepared?’ We are pushing the mayoral candidates to come up with a more comprehensive plan to protect the streets of Boston because if the storm had just moved a few miles up the coast, it would have hit Boston instead … That could have happened here, and it could still happen here.”
Mayoral candidate Mass. Rep. Martin Walsh responded to ELM’s advertisement at a press conference on Friday.
“We need to do our part to mitigate the effects of climate change, and to increase our ability to confront and survive those changes,” he said. “A sustainable model for Boston must include clean energy technology and more efficient energy use.”
Walsh’s plan would involve revising the Boston Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand the bottle bill, execute curbside organic waste recycling and composting, create incentives for construction companies to retrofit vehicles and work with utility partners to increase the safety of natural gas distribution pipelines, according to asFriday press release.
He also said he plans to expand renewable energy opportunities in order to utilize wind, water and solar energy.
Mayoral candidate City Councilor John Connolly said Boston needs serious changes to prevent what could have been a much more serious flood disaster due to Sanday. He said his proposed plan would require collaboration from scientists and experts from several fields.
“Improving our resilience will not be cheap, but we’ll be looking at billions in flooding damages if we don’t act,” he said in a Monday statement. “Yes, we need our building codes to proactively address the threat posed by rising sea levels and major storms, but building codes are just one part of this.”
Several residents said they would feel safer if the city had a more thorough protection plan against weather disasters.
“When things get really bad, you’ve got to have a lot of resources and equipment to throw at it,” said Eric Hill, 45, resident of the South End. “The city felt taxed during the storm last year … any preventative measure that the city can take would be beneficial and relieve much stress if another event like that happens.”
Frew Fikre, 43, resident of Back Bay, said preventing storm damage would be difficult, if possible at all.
“The storm was very nerve-wracking last year,” he said. “I’m not sure if it’s possible to fully protect against natural disasters, but of course I would appreciate the city taking any steps that would make me and all the other residents feel safer if we are ever caught in the same situation again.”
Amanda Collins, 29, resident of Brighton, said better storm preparations were very possible for city politicians to enact.
“It is the responsibility of the mayor and those who lead the city to make sure that the residents are as safe as possible against natural disasters,” she said. “Last year was a very close call with Sandy, but just because we managed to escape most of the harm that the storm caused, does not mean that preventing from future destruction should be put on a backburner. Natural disasters may not always be at the forefront of people’s minds, but protective measures are still a very important investment.”