A Message About Hurricane Sandy From ULI CEO Patrick L. Phillips

Patrick Phillips

Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips

The loss of life and destruction of properties and infrastructure resulting from Hurricane Sandy is almost impossible to comprehend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and to those from around the nation who are responding with rescue and relief assistance.  All of us who love our communities feel a deep sense of loss over the devastation throughout the region.

As this terrible event continues to unfold, many in the affected areas are still without such basics as electricity and easy access to food and water. What they need first and foremost is recovery aid. I encourage you to give generously to the Red Cross and other organizations involved in this relief effort.

Ultimately, there will be a massive rebuilding effort that will take place in the months and years to come. ULI is monitoring the situation and we will be working closely with our members throughout the region to determine where and how we can have the most beneficial impact. We are planning a coordinated effort that will draw upon the best thinking from our land use and urban development experts, our vast reservoir of best practices in redevelopment, and our past work in the restoration and revival of communities around the world.

ULI has a long history of providing community rebuilding assistance through our Advisory Services Panel program, which includes strategic guidance to communities hit by natural and man-made disasters. These advisory efforts have assisted numerous urban areas in crisis, including New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; Lower Manhattan after 9-11; Cedar Rapids, Iowa following flooding; and Minneapolis after a major bridge collapse.

It is possible that ULI might conduct a similar effort in New York City, and in communities in  New Jersey and Connecticut at the appropriate time, when the focus shifts from relief and recovery to long-term rebuilding. This process will take many years and a rock-solid public-private commitment that can withstand changes in political office, as well as economic, social and cultural shifts.

ULI’s strength lies in its ability to help communities as they prepare to rebuild, and we stand ready to contribute decades of land use expertise to the revival of this wonderful part of our nation.

5 comments on “A Message About Hurricane Sandy From ULI CEO Patrick L. Phillips

  1. The prescient recommendations for New Orleans post Katrina were the right solution in the wrong political environment. ULI has the credibility and gravitas to bring forward the tough recommendations of where and how communities should rebuild, as Keith noted, based on living systems informed community planning. Let’s hope we can bring our expertise to bear at the appropriate time, but perhaps limit it to locations that are willing (and able) to make the tough choices needed to rebuild resilient communities, not just rebuild.

  2. ULI needs to take a bold lead in advocating and facilitating both the rebuilding of the physical infrastructure and living systems that make our communities great. A major component of the rebuilding process should, and must include living infrastructure. Resiliency needs to encompass healthy, robust and vibrant ecosystems that support living systems. Restoring oyster reefs, coastal wetlands, and shoreline sand dunes are critical to making our coasts and cities more resilient to sea level rise, storm surges and unpredictable weather, not to mention that they will significantly contribute to ecosystem services (clean air, fresh water, healthy soils, carbon sequestration, biodiversity,etc.). ULI’s resources, intellectual capital and wherewith can make this happen. Let’s not rebuild the same things that got destroyed, let’s rebuild a more resilient, healthy and robust future.

  3. I think all of us at ULI feel very proud of what we were able to accomplish in the post-Katrina rebuilding. But ULI’s knowledge goes beyond grasping the redevelopment opportunities that emerge from a catastrophe. We can also identify those infrastructure changes needed to avoid repeats of such catastrophes. For example, hardening utilities so that storms cannot knock down overhead lines and building long-deferred flood barriers should be included as top priorities of any redevelopment efforts. I believe we have the talent to address these core issues, as well as the immediate redevelopment problems and opportunities.

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