Hurricane Risk and Resilience for Staten Island, NY

Alan I. Benimoff, CUNY College of Staten Island
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Initial Publication Date: April 11, 2014


Superstorm Sandy resulted in 23 deaths on Staten Island and caused extensive property damage. In this activity students will study hurricane risk and resilience on Staten Island. New York City has a hurricane history dating back to the 1600's. There is general agreement that "It is not a question of if, it is a question of when". This activity is an idea that I would like to develop for use in my own teaching.

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Learning Goals

The students should learn that each hurricane is different. Irene was different from Sandy. Staten Island is vulnerable to hurricanes because of its location. This is because there is a right angle in the coastline and hurricane winds are counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere. Students will also take field trips into the hurricane prone areas.

Context for Use

The Educational level is introductory General Education Geology. This is suited for a Planet Earth Course and a Natural Hazards course.

Description and Teaching Materials

Students will work with SLOSH maps, FEMA maps, topographic maps, hillshade maps, evacuation zone maps and population data. They will perform a risk assessment on Staten Island. Students can then investigate the pros and cons of various hard and soft stabilization projects.

Geology, Hurricane and Storm History of Staten Island, NY (Acrobat (PDF) 41.1MB Apr11 14)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Students will be assessed on their laboratory report for this activity.

References and Resources

East and South Shores of Staten Island

Pendleton, Elizabeth A., E. Robert Thieler, S. and Jeffress Williams (2005) Coastal Vulnerability Assessment of Gateway National Recreation Area (GATE) to Sea-Level Rise. USGS Open-File Report 2004-1257.