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Hurricane Sandy prompts New York to consider tougher flood protection codes

December 05, 2012 |
Lynne Simnick

Damage from Hurricane Sandy has New York City officials and real estate developers reviewing building codes. As they ponder a devastated landscape from the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan to the Rockaways in Queens to Midland Beach on Staten Island, new flood protections for all building types suddenly seem inevitable, whether voluntary or mandated by new laws.

Mayor Michael Bloombergconvened a new building resiliency task force to study potential changes in the building code and to make recommendations by the summer. The city will likely require retrofits to reinforce existing structures and more flood proofing for new projects.

Yet some builders say they have every incentive not to wait for government mandates and have taken some steps on their own. The design of Sims Metal Management’srecycling plant at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, for example, elevated portions of the site to heights exceeding city requirements by four feet. Using recycled glass and crushed rock, they raised the foundation for the plant’s four buildings and a dock.

The fill added $550,000 to the plant’s costs of around $100 million, but it proved its worth when a 12-foot storm surge swept through nearby streets and parking lots on Oct. 29. But the plant’s dock and partly completed buildings did not flood.


Lynne Simnick | Codes and Standards

Lynne Simnick is the Director of Code Development for the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and is responsible for the supervision and oversight of the creation and maintenance of all IAPMO codes and code supporting documents. Ms. Simnick has more than twenty-eight years experience in the plumbing industry including code development, education and training, plan review and evaluation services. Prior to joining IAPMO, Simnick worked as technical staff in engineering services, educator, inspector and plumber. She has a Bachelors of Science Degree in Education and Mechanical Engineering Technology. Simnick has authored many technical articles, participated in numerous standards committees with an expertise in code and standards development.

Ms. Simnick may be contacted at IAPMO, 909-472-4110 or email

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