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A close-up of the Belle Harbor neighborhood in the Rockaways shows the extensive flooding that occurred there. (screen shot via New York Times)

Everyone knows that Hurricane Sandy caused major damage to parts of New York City, but if you want more concrete information about how much flooding really happened — how many feet of water and where — the New York Times has published an amazing map that offers precisely that.

Going block by block, and in some neighborhoods building by building, the map uses a color code to break down the flooding into different categories: turquoise for an overall flood zone, and then yellow, orange, and red to represent peak water depths of 0–3 feet, 3–6 feet, and 6–18 feet. You can zoom in on such hard hit neighborhoods as Chelsea, Red Hook, the Rockaways, and Oakwood (Staten Island) to get amazingly detailed and extensive breakdowns of the flooding.

You may find surprises: for instance, I didn’t know that water had reached as far east as 9th Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets in Chelsea. And even where you know the story, seeing a close-up of an area like the Rockaways with every little house a different color, all of them floating in a sea of turquoise, somehow drives home the extent of the destruction.

Unfortunately, the damage probably isn’t enough to convince city, state, and federal leaders that what we need even more than rebuilding efforts are preventative measures for next time — or at least that’s what the AP is saying, in a long piece that explores whether the political will exists to implement engineering schemes to protect the city from future superstorms. “[N]early all flood researchers interviewed by the AP voiced considerable skepticism about action in the foreseeable future,” author Jeff Donn writes. Now that is depressing.

Restore Your Family Albums

Before-and-after shot of a photo restored through CARE for Sandy (image via

In the short term, if you’re looking to help out and don’t quite have the ability to design a storm-deterrent plan for the city — but do have some photo-retouching skills, you’re in luck! CARE (Cherished Albums Restoration Effort) for Sandy is looking for volunteers to help with its mission: offering free digital restoration services for people whose personal photos were damaged by Sandy. I find this project incredibly kindhearted, and while it won’t get someone a new home, it might give them a bit of solace as they begin to rebuild.

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Jillian Steinhauer

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art...