After Superstorm Sandy hit New York in 2012, the city and state spent billions recovering from the storm and building new storm surge protections for its subway system. Seven years after the storm, a reporter asked then–Metropolitan Transportation Authority chair and CEO Pat Foye whether the subway was prepared for another Sandy. “The answer is ‘much better prepared,’” Foye said. But when the remnants of Hurricane Ida rolled through the tristate area earlier this month, the subway ground to a halt anyway, not because of storm surge, but because of extreme, rapid rainfall.

New York City didn’t focus on the wrong thing by investing in storm surge protections like sea walls. Storm surge badly affected the city in 2012, and it could happen again. But designing a flood-resilient city in the age of rapidly escalating climate change requires thinking more comprehensively — each part of the urban landscape needs to play a role. Urban resilience experts interviewed by Grist said it also requires thinking farther ahead, not just about how a policy measure or a piece of infrastructure will serve the city this decade, but two, three, and four decades from now.

Climate change is already intensifying flooding in much of the country, including the Northeast, the Mississippi River Valley, and the Midwest. The air becomes 4 percent more saturated with water for every 1 degree Fahrenheit that the planet warms. When that water comes back down as rain, it’s heavier than it used to be. The most torrential downpours in the Northeast now unleash 55 percent more rain compared to the 1950s, according to the most recent National Climate Assessment, and could increase another 40 percent by the end of the century. Flooding is one of the deadliest forms of disaster in the U.S. — the flooding from Ida’s remnants in the Northeast killed at least 52 people, less than two weeks after flooding in central Tennessee killed 22. This week, Tropical Storm Nicholas is dousing Texas and Louisiana, where the ground is still saturated by Ida’s rains, threatening more lives.

Read the full article about preparing for flooding by Zoya Teirstein at Grist.