The New York City Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation (NYCEM) lftlogolvl2


Natural Disasters in the New York City Area: Economic Effects

Annotated Bibliography
Christopher Hollister
Graduate Assistant
MCEER Information Service
(Former bibliography by Hugh Jarvis)

The following sources provide an overview of the disasters which are deemed to be important for New York City emergency planning.

  • Sylves, Richard T. and Thomas J. Pavlak. "Managing Major Emergencies in 'Gotham City'." In Disaster Management in the US and Canada: The Politics, Policymaking, Administration and Analysis of Emergency Management, Second Edition. Richard T. Sylves and William L. Waugh, Jr., eds. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1996.
    • General overview, with risk assessment of range of disasters which threaten New York City, including blizzards, hurricanes & floods, water shortages, earthquakes, and tornadoes.

  • Sylves, Richard T. and Thomas J. Pavlak. "The Big Apple and Disaster Planning: How New York City Manages Major Emergencies." In Cities and Disaster: North American Studies in Emergency Management. Richard T. Sylves and William L. Waugh, Jr., eds. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1990.
    • An earlier version of the previous item, but has some additional information including a table of major incidents.

NOTE: All information sources noted above can be obtained through MCEER Information Service.

Supporting Documents:
The following provide more specific details about past or predicted natural disasters and their various economic impacts on the New York Metropolitan area.


  • Anonymous. "When a Hurricane Hits New York." Science News, vol. 146, no. 10 (1994): p. 159.
    • Short article. Destructive potential of hurricanes elevated due to coastal geometry. A category-3 hurricane could produce storm surges of 15 to 19 feet in the New York City area.

  • Barnhart, Bill. "Dow Limps Lower on Soggy Day; Hurricane Upstages Stocks; Dollar Gains; Bonds Rally; Oil Up." Chicago Tribune, 17 September 1999: p. 5.
    • Short article. The Wall Street trading session is cut short by Hurricane Floyd, and stocks end mostly lower. FDX estimates an lost revenues from the storm at $15 million.

  • "Disaster Response: Does the Country Need a New National Strategy?" The CQ Researcher, vol. 2, no. 38 (1993): p. 889-912.
    • Provides some context for what planners view as disasters and their risk for various parts of the nation. Includes some details on various past events, including general coverage for the New York City area.

  • Edmondson, Brad. "Big Blows." American Demographics, vol. 16, no. 10 (1994): p. 60.
    • Based on the CQ Researcher article (above), a map of the US indicates various disaster zones for earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis. It notes that a category-4 hurricane could cause $45 billion damage to New York City, but a category-5 is unlikely to reach that far north.

  • Larson, Erik. "Hurricanes on the Hudson." New York Times, 25 September 1999: p. 15 (col. 1).
    • Short article. A 1995 Army Corps of Engineers technical report shows Manhattan's alarming vulnerability to storm surges from even category-1 hurricanes. One model shows a 30-foot storm surge, with water rising over 17 feet in one hour.

  • Lohse, Deborah. "Property Insurers Slash Loss Estimates from Hurricane Floyd to $800 Million." Wall Street Journal, 20 September 1999: p. A6.
    • Short article. Hurricane Floyd's original estimated property losses to the East Coast (including New York and New Jersey)of $4 Billion are re-estimated at $800 Million.

  • Ludlum, David M. Early American Hurricanes 1492-1870. Boston: American Meteorological Society, 1963.
    • Provides details of the only hurricane to really impact the New York City area, the Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane of 1821 (pages 81-87).

  • Marston, Wendy. "Forecast: Total Disaster." New York, vol. 18, September 1995: p. 62-64.
    • The chances of various sized hurricanes for New York City and the damage they might do is discussed. NYPD's Office of Emergency Management models different categories and their potential effects.

  • Smith, Brian P. "Natural disasters and the Capital Markets." America's Community Banker, vol. 7, no. 4, April 1998: p. 42-43.
    • Losses booked by insurance companies from recent natural disasters could have a direct and immediate impact on real estate lending. The example of New York is given, where reasonable loss projections are $50 billion for a category-5 hurricane, and $25 billion for a nor'easter.

  • Staff. "Some Wall Street Trading is cut Short by Hurricane." The Wall Street Journal, 17 September 1999: p. C1.
    • Short article. The bond market and commodity exchanges close early as Hurricane Floyd sweeps through the New York area.

NOTE: All information sources noted above can be obtained through MCEER Information Service.


  • Alvarez, Lizette. "Even Warm Winds Can Cause Damage." New York Times, 25 February 1996: p. 38.
    • 50 mph winds collapsed a Newark building and knocked out power to over 1,000 homes on Long Island and in New Jersey.

  • Kennedy, Randy. "60-m.p.h. Winds Kill Three and Cause Severe Damage." New York Times, 26 February 1996: p. B1-B3.
    • Storm collapsed buildings in Brooklyn, killed several, and knocked out power to 100,000 homes in New York and New Jersey.

  • Knowles, Robert G. "Tornado Costs Insurers Some $225 Million." Cash Flow, vol. 93, no. 49, 4 December 1989: p. 1-2.
    • A storm front of November 1989 that spawned tornadoes, high winds hail and flooding, caused property damages estimated at $8 million in New York, and $15 million in New Jersey.

  • Roberts, Sally. "Disaster Toll Climbs: East Coast Storm to Cost Underwriters $650 Million." Business Insurance, vol. 26, 28 December 1992: p. 1, 37.
    • Long article. East Coast storm, a "Nor'easter", on 11-12 December 1992 hits Northeast hardest. Most of the damage is in New York, where AISG estimates insurers will pay over $220 million.

NOTE: All information sources noted above can be obtained through MCEER Information Service.

Snow Storms & Blizzards:

  • Anonymous. "Flaked Out." Economist, vol. 338, no. 7948, 13 January 1996: p. 26 (UK 44).
    • The blizzard of January 1996 in New York City could cost an estimated $23 million in clean-up costs alone. The storm, which struck all of the Northeast, could cost an estimated $7 billion in lost retail sales throughout the region.

  • Anonymous. "Winter Storm Cripples East Coast Air Operations." Aviation Week & Space Technology, vol. 144, no. 3, 15 January 1996: p. 29-32.
    • The snow storm of 7-8 January 1996 crippled air transportation on the East Coast (New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelpia), causing an estimate $50-$100 million in losses to the airlines industry.

  • Myers, Steven Lee. "Inches Add Up to Millions." New York Times, 4 February, 1996: p. 37(L).
    • On the heels of a January blizzard that cost New York City an estimated $50 million, the city suffers another snow storm which is estimated to cost another $6 million.

  • Van Biema, David. "The Blizzard of '96." Time, vol. 147, no. 4 (1996): p. 18-21.
    • Short article. 1996 blizzard dropped 20 inches of snow in New York City and cost estimated $1 billion to the "New York region".

NOTE: All information sources noted above can be obtained through MCEER Information Service.


  • Anonymous. "Eastern Quake's Costs and Damage Could Eclipse Northridge." Civil Engineering, vol. 65, no. 11 (1995): p. 10-11.
    • Short article, mostly information from Klaus Jacob and Charles Scawthorn. Damage from a magnitude-7 quake could cause $11 to $26 billion.

  • Ehrlich, Arlene. "Earthquake: Seismologists Predict a Big One for the East." Baltimore Sun, 16 July 1989: p. 11-21.
    • Long article. The likelihood of a major earthquake in the Eastern U.S. within the next 20 years is high. History of earthquakes in the Eastern U.S., and various faults in urban areas are discussed. A magnitude 6.0 earthquake in Brooklyn could cause over $20 billion.

  • Graver, Fred and Charlie Rubin. "Waiting for the Big One." New York, vol. 28, no. 49 11 December 1995: p. 36-42, 45-47.
    • Mostly information from Klaus Jacob. Describes chances of a large New York City earthquake, local fault lines, and damage it might do ($20 billion to buildings alone [Scawthorn's number]).

  • Hofmann, Mark A. "Big Quake Could Ruin Economy: Stewart." Business Insurance, vol. 23, no. 22, 29 May 1989: p. 22-25.
    • Long article. Barbara D. Stewart, President of Stewart Economics, Inc. (New York), predicts that a major earthquake would reverberate throughout the US economy. Because of industrialization and urbanization, the US economy is more vulnerable to a major earthquake than ever before. Insurance claims alone could run as high as $60 billion.

  • Holmes, Bob. "Big One Threatens the Big Apple." New Scientist, vol. 145, no. 1967 (4 March 1995): p. 11.
    • Long article with map of faults under New York City. Mostly information from Klaus Jacob. Parts of New York City, including some bridges, at risk due to being on soft sediments. A magnitude-6 earthquake could cause from $25 to $50 billion damage.

  • Jacob, Klaus. "City Should Gird for Earthquake Despite Long Odds." Daily News (NY), 23 January 1995: p. 25.
    • Opinion. A magnitude-5 earthquake could cause $1 billion in damages in New York City, and a magnitude-6 could cause $25 billion in damages to buildings alone.

  • Jacob, Klaus. "Scenario Earthquakes for Urban Areas Along the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States." In Economic Consequences of Earthquakes: Preparing for the Unexpected. NCEER-SP-0001. Barclay G. Jones, ed. State University of New York at Buffalo: NCEER, 1997.
    • Estimates overall damage costs by magnitude of predicted earthquake based on past earthquakes near New York City and elsewhere (pages 86-93).

  • Lewis, Michael. "How a Tokyo Earthquake Could Devastate Wall Street and the World Economy." Manhattan, Inc., vol. 6, no. 6: p. 69-79.
    • Long article. Tokyo experiences earthquakes, on the average, every 70 years. With the interdependence of world markets, a major earthquake in Tokyo could devastate the markets in New York.

  • New York City Seismic Code Committee. The New York City Code: Local Law 17/95 [Technical Report NCEER-XX-XXXX]. State University of New York at Buffalo: NCEER, 1995: p. 5/1-5/5.
    • Section 5 is an economic impact study of new seismic provisions for New York City.

  • Nordenson, Guy J.P. "Built Value and Earthquake Risk." In Economic Consequences of Earthquakes: Preparing for the Unexpected. Barclay G. Jones, ed. State University of New York at Buffalo: NCEER, 1997: p. 167-174.
    • Long article. A discussion of the impact an earthquake will have on New York City's built value, in terms of economy, cultural heritage and social fabric.

  • Scawthorn, Charles. "Approximation of Earthquake Losses for a Major Earthquake Near a Large Eastern U.S. Urban Center: Preliminary Results." In Practice in North America 1987: Proceedings from the Symposium on Seismic Hazards, Ground Motions, Soil-Liquefaction and Engineering; Tuxedo, New York, 20-22 October 1987 [NCEER Bulletin 87-0025]. Klaus H. Jacob, ed. State University of New York at Buffalo: NCEER, 1987: p. 59-69.
    • Preliminary NCEER Report on potential costs of New York City earthquake.

  • Scawthorn, Charles and Stephan K. Harris. "Estimation of Earthquake Losses for a Large Eastern Urban Center: Scenario Events for New York City." In Earthquake Hazards and the Design of Constructed Facilities in the Eastern United States. Klaus H. Jacob and Carl J.Turkstra, eds. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Volume 558. New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1989.
    • Published version of preliminary NCEER report. Includes map of earthquake effects such as fires in eastern boroughs. Extensive inventory of buildings and potential damage from an M6, with an estimated total of about $400 billion.

  • Seeber, L. and J.G. Armbruster. A Study of Earthquake Hazards in New York State and Adjacent Areas: Final Report Covering the Period 1982-1985. NUREG/CR-4750. Washington: US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 1986.
    • Details damage of past earthquakes effecting New York State.

  • Sheridan, Dick. "Future Shock." Daily News Magazine, 8 January 1989: p. 10-11, 13-14.
    • Mostly a summary of the Scawthorn and Harris article.

  • Staff. "Major Quake Seen as Overdue in NY." Chicago Sun Times, 16 September 1992.
    • New York City can expect a magnitude-5 eaqrthquake about every 100 years, and the last one occurred in 1884. A major earthquake in New york City could cost $25 billion in damages to buildings alone. Indirect damages such as the closure hospitals, the stock exchange, and other businesses, could cost in the hundreds of billions.

  • Stevens, William. "Quake Could Devastate Cities of East: Experts." The Toronto Globe & Mail, 28 October 1989: p. 1.
    • Short article. A magnitude 6 earthquake centered in the Atlantic, 27 kilometers southeast of New York City's City Hall would cause an estimated $11 billion in damages to buildings. The same earthquake centered 17 kilometers southeast of New York City's City Hall would cause an estimated $18 billion. And the same earthquake 8 kilometers to the southeast, would cause over $25 billion.

  • Stover, Carl W. and Jerry L. Coffman. Seismicity of the United States 1568-1989 (revised). USGS Professional Paper 1527. Washington: US Government Printing Office, 1993.
    • Chronology of earthquakes effecting New York State and their damage.

  • Turner, Douglas. "UB's Ketter Predicts Big Quake in the East." Buffalo News, 5 October 1988: p. A1, A5.
    • Short article. Dr. Ketter of NCEER discusses 75%-95% probability of a major Eastern U.S. earthquake by 2010. The example of New York City's 1883 earthquake is discussed. A similar earthquake today, in the same location (Jamaica Bay), would cause an estimated $7 billion in property damages alone.

  • Vaughan, Causewell. "Don't Get Shook but...Earthquakes are Sure Here by 2010?" New York Daily News, 5 October 1988: p. C7.
    • Short article. Dr. Ketter of NCEER warns of the near 100% probability of a major Eastern U.S. earthquake by 2010. Dr. Jacobs of Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory describes New York City as "riddled" with geological faults. The 125th Street Fault is discussed. An earthquake in New York's Jamaica Bay, similar to that of 1883, would cause an estimated $7 billion in damages.

NOTE: All information sources noted above can be obtained through MCEER Information Service.


  • Allen, Mike. "Big Storm: Connecticut; At Flooded Car Dealer, Everything Must Go." New York Times, 19 September 1999: p. 42 (col. 1).
    • Short article. Tropical Storm Floyd dumps 10 inches of rain in 4 hours on Fairfield County, Connecticut. It is the worst flooding there in 40 years. Examples of effects on business are given: all 200 cars on an automobile dealer's lot are flooded and deemed a total loss.

  • Beardsley, Charles. "Simple Solutions." Mechanical Engineering - CIME, vol. 115, no. 2 (1993): p. 4.
    • Heavy rains and extremely high tides flooded the New York City Hudson River subway tunnels in 1992. Some damage described, but no costs.

  • Fagin, Dan. "Long Island: Our Future. [Chapter 4: Environment and Energy], Trouble of the Rise: Global Warming is on the Rise, and Threatens Dramatic Changes to Our Shoreline, Water Supply and Weather." Newsday [Nassau and Suffolk], 4 April 1999: p. A18.
    • Long article. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency predicts sea levels to rise 10 inches in the New York area by 2050. Immediate and long term impacts are discussed. Rising seas can be devastating to third world countries, and New York, because of its strong international ties, will feel a strong economic impact.

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency. Flood Insurance Study: City of New York, New York, Bronx County, Queens County, New York County, Kings County, Richmond County. Washington: Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1991.
    • Delineates areas susceptible to flooding and costs of damage from past events (mostly hurricanes).

  • Hoffman, Thomas. "Companies Wading Through Wall Street." Computerworld, vol. 26, no. 51: p. 20.
    • Short article. Computer operations and staff of several Wall Street firms are moved to dry ground after heavy storms of December 1992 flooded offices. Economic impact on data processing was minimal in comparison to other recent disasters.

  • Kocieniewski, David. "As Damage Estimates Increase, Vote in Trenton is Set on Flood Aid." New York Times, 16 October 1999: p. A1, B6.
    • Short article. Property damage to New Jersey from flooding associated with Tropical Storm Floyd is estimated at $500 million. The New Jersey Legislature is voting on an assistance package for flood victims.

  • Staff. "Damage from Floyd Seen as Costliest Ever." New York Times, 6 October 1999: p. 8 (col. 6) - Metro Section.
    • Short article. Flooding from Tropical Storm Floyd caused $250 million in damage to New Jersey, making it the costliest disaster in state history.

  • Strunsky, Steve. "After the flood: With a Billion Dollars in Damage, New Jersey Will Be Wringing Out a Long Time." The New York Times, 17 October 1999: p. 1 (col. 2).
    • Long article. Record-breaking floodwaters let loose by Tropical Storm Floyd caused an estimated $800 million in damages to Northern New Jersey alone. Roads are cut off, mass transit is paralyzed, power and telephone lines are down. Over 20,000 people are evacuated from their homes.

  • Suhay, Lisa. "Insurers to Pay $84 Million to Flood Victims." New York Times, 3 October 1999: p. 10 (col. 2) - New Jersey Section.
    • Short article. New Jersey residents and businesses will collect over $84 million from private insurance companies as a result of flooding from Tropical Storm Floyd.

NOTE: All information sources noted above can be obtained through MCEER Information Service.

Extreme Heat & Drought:

  • Boyle, Robert H. "Global Warming: You're Getting Warmer." Audubon, vol. 101, no. 6: p. 80-87.
    • Long article. Effects of global warming on coastal areas. Special section in article, "The Baked Apple," discusses ecological and socio-economic impacts of global warming on the New York metropolitan region.

  • Jacobs, Andrew. "Aid for New York and New Jersey Farms." New York Times, 11 August 1999: p. B5.
    • Short Article. Federal officials declare most of New York and all of New Jersey drought disaster areas. The economic impact of the worst drought conditions registered in this region since records began being kept 105 years ago are described as "very, very severe." 36,000 farms are effected.

  • Kerber, Ross and Jonathan Auerbach. "Emergency Measures Invoked by Utilities on Eastern Seaboard." Wall Street Journal, 22 May 1996: p. A3, A6.
    • Short article. Northeast hit hard by late Spring heat wave. New York's Consolidated Edison power company implements voltage reduction plan. Shortage of power combined with increased power demands likely to cause higher prices and possible power outages.

  • Kunkle, Frerick and Kimberly Brown. "Drought Pounding Farmers: Officials in Mid-Atlantic States Put Crop Losses at $800 Million." The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), 16 August 1999: p. 1.
    • New York and New Jersey are among 10 states declared drought emergencies. Losses to New Jersey farms are estimated at $80 million. Estimates are not yet released for New York.

  • Sullivan, Allanna and James Covert. "Northeast Utilities Cut, Curtail Power As Heat Wave Drives Up Demand, Price." Wall Street Journal, 7 July 1999: p. A4.
    • Short article. Prolonged heat wave in New England hits New York area hard. Street-level electrical feeder cables being damaged by extreme heat and power overloads. Wholesale power prices rose 30 times the normal asking price. Full financial impact will not be known until heat wave breaks.

NOTE: All information sources noted above can be obtained through MCEER Information Service.

Disasters & Lifelines:

  • Kleinman, Richard. "Electronic Lifelines Are Unprotected." Newsday, 2 June 1999: p. A41.
    • Short article. Long Island's volunteer public safety community develops plans to deal with natural disasters, but is ill-prepared for interruptions in electronic lifeline services. The example of a recent disruption in telephone services in Suffolk County is discussed.

  • McKay, Martha. "How Floyd Foiled the Phones: Flood Struck a Hub Linking 23 Centers." The Record (Northern New Jersey), 23 September 1999: p. A1.
    • Long article. Flood waters from Tropical Storm Floyd knock out major telecommunications hubs in New Jersey, leaving over 1 million people without phone service. The ATM network hubs are also flooded, effecting over 8,000 ATMs across the nation.

  • Physical Vulnerability of Electric Systems to Natural Disaster and Sabotage. Washington: Congress of the United States Office of Technical Assessment, 1990.
    • This details vulnerability of electrical systems to various disasters and provides a detailed breakdown of the costs of the 1977 New York City Blackout.

  • Reilly, Matthew. "A Toll in Dollars: A Strain on Senses; Memory of Watery Nightmare Will Linger Long." The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), 26 September 1999: p. 37.
    • Short article. In Northern New Jersey, flooding from Tropical Storm Floyd knocks water filtration plants off-line. Bell Atlantic and AT&T phone lines are also down.

NOTE: All information sources noted above can be obtained through MCEER Information Service.

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